World Fantasy Award winner Slatter’s third collection of short fiction set in the cathedral city of Lodellan (after The Bitterwood Bible
) delivers 12 flawless, intricately interconnected stories that blend fairy tales, the supernatural, and neodecadent stylings. The exquisite title story—in which Cordelia Parsifal, an exhausted, high status wife and mother of three, experiences a shocking family betrayal—serves as the keystone of the collection. “The Promise of Saints,” a gorgeous, frightening tale of unwanted marriage and religious mania, follows a girl named Elspeth as she is visited by a bejeweled saint called the Hallowed Girl. The haunting “Of Ghosts and Glory” tells of the jeweler Ildikó and the origins of a necklace featured in the title story. Slatter’s characters and settings are so richly described that the pages feel akin to paintings on a canvas. Accompanied by lovely illustrations by Jennings, this is an exciting, intelligent must-read.(Apr.)
Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the illustrator's surname.