cover image Horse, Flower, Bird: Stories

Horse, Flower, Bird: Stories

Kate Bernheimer, illus. by Rikki Ducornet, Coffee House, $14.95 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-56689-247-6

Deep-seated fears find their way into these eight brief, dark adult fairy tales by Bernheimer (The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum). In "A Doll's Tale," a sad child named Astrid loves a life-size doll to distraction, even though it is "haughty and mean." When the doll is lost, then replaced by an imaginary friend who runs away, Astrid eventually becomes more doll-like than either of her companions. Another woman conspires, in "A Petting Zoo Tale," to keep a small menagerie in her basement, unbeknownst to her distracted lawyer husband. And what to make of the wounded and delirious protagonist of "Whitework"? Taking refuge in a remote cottage, she becomes obsessed with the intricate designs of the white-on-white embroidery she finds there. These stories are the product of a vivid imagination and crafty manipulation by their skillful creator. Pity there are not more drawings by Ducornet. (Sept.)