cover image Spirits Abroad

Spirits Abroad

Zen Cho. Small Beer, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-61873-186-9

Malaysian fantasist Cho (Sorcerer to the Crown) showcases tongue-in-cheek wit, sensitive characterization, and wide literary range in this update to her 2014 Crawford Fantasy Award–winning collection, which includes nine new stories. The most breathtaking entries feature wry and perceptive marriages of Malaysian folklore, modern pressures, and the nuances of intergenerational relationships. A one-eyed koi lures an overscheduled high school student to ruin with granted wishes in “The Fish Bowl,” a heartrending portrait of perfectionism crumbling. In “The House of Aunts,” a nuanced and tender spin on the vampire-human love story that far exceeds the sum of its parts, a 16-year-old dead girl falls in love with a living boy, but must contend with her plantation house full of vampire aunties. While lighter pieces, like “One-Day Travelcard for Fairyland” and “Prudence and the Dragon,” can end abruptly, all 19 stories tackle fantasy tropes with a fundamental sweetness and humor that never ignores the complexity of intercultural life. Powerful but subtle magic woven into the fabric of intricate worlds make Cho a sure favorite for readers of Kelly Link and Carmen Maria Machado. [em]Agent: Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Assoc. (Apr) [/em]