Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels is one of the few retellings of Snow White and Rose Red that I've come across, and it's a very interesting and creative treatment of the story.

Tender Morsels

The book is tagged as being aimed at grade 9 and up, and I would be very hesitant to recommend it to anyone younger than that. Although not gratuitous, there is some serious brutality at the beginning of the story. The story begins with Liga, a traumatized young woman, and the author does not skimp away from her trauma. I think that in spite of the horror of what happens (without giving too much away), it justifies the choices of Liga, who is given the option of taking herself and her daughters into a private heaven instead of raising them on earth.

And then we enter the story as we know it; Snow White and Rose Red (aptly renamed for this telling) grow up with their mother through an idyllic childhood, all around them love them, including the animals, who come when they are beckoned. Liga and Branza (White) are content and happy, but fiery Urrda knows there is something missing from their easy, lonely life, and when she seeks it their world begins to crumble.

I really liked the way the world was built, the way the story was fleshed out to be, although magical, also believable. I struggled more with the author's manipulation of the story once she got past the original frame of the story, and still had to figure out how to end her story. It is well done, but it definitely ended, for me, on a melancholy note.

Definitely worth reading if this is one of your favorite stories, but again, very much with the mature content. Aside from a few strange quirks of language ("ivorily" being a word that struck memorably me as out of place and extraneous, for example), it's a well executed adaptation of the story.

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