cover image White Cat, Black Dog

White Cat, Black Dog

Kelly Link. Random House, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-44995-0

Link (Get in Trouble) refashions classic fairy tales, myths, and adventure sagas for contemporary settings in her wondrous collection. In “The White Cat’s Divorce,” a wealthy father sends his three sons on a series of quests to decide who will win his estate. Along the way, the sons wind up under the spell of an enterprising feline who runs a weed dispensary. A company of traveling actors finds peril in a curiously vacant Virginia town in “The White Road.” In “Prince Hat Underground,” a hapless man undertakes an epic journey to rescue his missing husband from the Queen of Hell. Hansel and Gretel get the sci-fi treatment on a planet of vampires in “The Game of Smash and Recovery.” And in “Skinder’s Veil,” a house-sitter is visited by figures out of storybooks. Link delivers the kind of off-the-cuff oddness her readers expect, and her reworkings take the clockwork of familiar stories and give them bloody, beating hearts. She makes great leaps in her prose, too, often framing her tales with time-hardened lines like “All of this happened a very long time ago,” before fashioning a startling new simile, as with the sensation of one character’s attention on others feeling like “sunlight coming through a magnifying glass.” This is enchanting. Agent: Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency. (Mar.)