Oh, what a fabulous short story collection! Just three stories- ‘Goblin Fruit’, ‘Spicy Little Curses’ and ‘Hatchling’- and yet each one is like a truffle, scented with amazing, evocative language that melts in the reader’s mind. I have a serious thing for Laini Taylor’s work (if it wasn’t obvious) having gobbled up her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and then her awesome (perhaps even better) novella, ‘A Night of Cake and Puppets.’ This collection also includes illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo, although unfortunately these didn’t really translate well to my Kindle.
Whilst certain things about Daughter of Smoke and Bone stuck in my (metaphorical) craw- for example, some of the over-witty, zany dialogue and the oh-so-perfect Ken Doll angel that was Akiva (grr)- I couldn’t deny that Taylor is a wizard at inventing new worlds, new languages, and new creatures. All of this comes into play one more time, with this short story collection. Taking inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, (that would be the first story, where a girl named Kizzy is hunted by a goblin) the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, opera, Hindu beliefs on Hell, (see ‘Spicy Little Curses’, where a cursed girl named Anamique ventures into Hell to rescue her fiancee) and ancient Persian theologies, (‘Hatchling’) this is less of a collection and more of a melting-pot of imagination and creativity – in parts, a tower of Babel made into words, in others, a shifting mass of fairy-tale and fable.
Whilst some things passed me by- for example, ‘Hatchling’ seemed a bit plotless and at times meandered too much, whilst Kizzy’s friends in ‘Goblin Fruit’ irritated me- other parts I simply couldn’t fault. She is a master at weaving together the sensual, the fantastic and the comic, and after devouring each story, I’m waiting with baited breath for a sequel.
Overall rating: 10 out of 10: MORE, MS. TAYLOR, MORE!
Note: amazing illustrations throughout are by Jim Di Bartolo, for each story in turn.