cover image The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales

The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales

Yoon Ha Lee. Andrews McMeel, $14.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-5248-6813-0

Locus Award winner Lee (Phoenix Extravagant) takes on the folktale form in a collection of 25 gorgeous, magical stories, tiny jewels of worldbuilding that tap into mythic themes to feel somehow both ancient and delightfully fresh. Each story stands complete on its own, though a few characterizations recur, among them foxes who play tricks on humans and the powerful figure known as the Queen of the Birds. Several pieces point toward gentle lessons: a princess learns her true treasure is that which she’s had all along in “A Single Pebble,” while “The Pale Queen’s Sister” imparts that friendship cannot be bought, but must be asked for. Others, like “Moonwander,” evoke the genre of explanatory myth. Yet others are pure whimsy: robots build a dragon in “The Dragon Festival,” a piano traps the magic of unicorns in “The Cursed Piano,” and a siren lures a sailor to death to steal his teeth in “The Mermaid’s Teeth.” Lee’s gently inclusive worlds often feature LGBTQ characters, as in “Tiger Wives,” about a general hoping to catch herself a tiger wife, and “The Virtues of Magpies,” about a nonbinary questing youth. Throughout, Lee conjures universal expressions of forest, sea, and kingdom that let the reader imagine that all the tales are of one fairy tale world outside of time and space. The result is breathtaking in its playful grace. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Oct.)