Australian speculative fiction author Slatter's U.S. debut is a compilation of her most notable stories along with several new ones, all of which showcase her incredible talent for enlivening fairy tale and folkloric fiction. Some, such as "Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope," rework familiar tales, often bringing female figures into the limelight as the protagonists. Others, such as "The Coffin-Maker's Daughter," feature women struggling against those who have wronged them. The bonds of family are sometimes treacherous, as in "By the Weeping Gate" and "Sister, Sister." Slatter's prose is reminiscent of oral storytelling; there is a sense that these stories are legends that have been handed down from generation to generation. But the women who star in them feel like real people, not mythic figures, and are agents unto themselves, with a variety of flaws and skills that shape them into fascinating characters. Slatter's worlds are many and diverse but feel somehow linked, and she renders them vividly. Her fiction will appeal to readers who enjoy highly inventive fantasy rooted in age-old tradition.
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