cover image Sourdough and Other Stories

Sourdough and Other Stories

Angela Slatter, Tartarus (, $50 (238p) ISBN 9781905784257

Australian author Slatter (Black-Winged Angels) displays a rare gift for evocative and poetic prose in this collection of 16 dark fairy tales featuring characters that will be familiar to readers of the Brothers Grimm, but themes (such as long-simmering vengeance and unnatural death) that push them out of the kids' stuff camp. The knockout short but powerful opener, "The Shadow Tree," about a royal servant's response to the cruelty of the king's teenage children, climaxes with a chilling resolution. And "Little Radish" neatly tweaks the well-known tale of Rapunzel. Yet Slatter doesn't always rely on the creations of others for her ideas, as the title story, with its baker narrator, amply demonstrates. She has a knack for crafting opening lines that almost hypnotically draw the reader in ("The sight of the inn picks at the stitches of my memory. The splintered shingle, emblazoned with a faded golden lily, swings in the breeze"). Her considerable talent should translate well to the novel-length fantasy she's currently working on. (Sept.)