A Feast of Sorrows
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Here it comes, at last: the first Angela Slatter book published in the USA. An excellent Australian writer whose superb dark stories have appeared in various British anthologies and collections, Slatter is known as the author of a genre of fiction lying somewhere between horror and fantasy, often taking the shape of adult fairy tales.
A Feast of Sorrows assembles fourteen stories, two originals and twelve reprints, which provide a fascinating showcase of Slatter’s extraordinary talent as a gifted storyteller and a devoted scholar of the mysteries of human soul.
“Sourdough” is a delightful fable where true love triumphs over evil and witchcraft, while “Dresses, three” is a gentle yarn about love and overwhelming desire, served with a touch of magic.
The delicious “The Badger’s Bride” features a girl whose task is to copy a mysterious, ancient book, and the vivid “By My Voice I Shall be Known” depicts a case of cheated love ending with a terrible vengeance.
“Bluebeard’s Daughter” nicely revisits the old pirate’s tale by elaborating on the deeds of his last wife and her son, while “Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope” provides an enchanting new version of the classic Rumpelstiltskin story. In the powerful fantasy piece “Sister Sister,” a former princess is abandoned by her husband and bewitched by her wicked, inhuman sister. The British Fantasy Award-winning “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” masterfully blends death and lust within the frame of the professional duty of a dismal job. Part of a forthcoming new collection, “The Tallow-Wife” is a remarkable narrative tour de force — it’s a dark comedy portraying the downfall of a family, some members of which hide unspeakable secrets. One of the sequels to that novelette, the offbeat “Bearskin,” is also included in this volume.
A Feast of Sorrows is a real treat for the reader fond of great storytelling on the dark side of life. Needless to add, it is highly recommended.