Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tender Morsels

Title:               Tender Morsels
Category:       Fantasy
Grade:            14+
Author:          Margo Lanagan
Publisher:       Alfred A. Knopf
Place:              New York
Date:               2008
Pages:             433

Liga has grown to womanhood in a dark and violent home.  Impregnated by her father on multiple occasions and finally gang-raped by a group of town boys, Liga flees to the woods to take her own life and that of her infant’s.  Instead, a powerful magic enables her to escape into her own personal heaven, where she raises her two daughters in peace.  Yet the borders of her heaven are not secure; when the town witch breaches them for the sake of a self-centered dwarf, visitors begin to come occasionally to Liga’s new world from her old, most often trapped in the form of a wild bear. Though Liga is content, her younger daughter Urdda is restless.  Eventually escaping to the real world, Urdda manages to find a powerful sorceress to bring her sister and mother back as well, where they discover that the old witch-woman’s meddlings have created a powerful imbalance in the world.  Together they must build a new life for themselves and learn to live again in their real world. 

A dark book, Tender Morsels deals with many very serious issues such as incest, abortion, vengeance, and rape, but also takes a look at love.  Carolyn Lehman of Humboldt State University comments that the novel also explores the idea of dissociation as a response to severe trauma ( Slower-paced, this novel is nevertheless richly characterized and a very intense read. Tender Morsels was a disturbing book to read.  Some teens may like it simply out of morbid fascination for the graphic indignities visited upon Liga.  It is, very loosely told, the story of Snow White and Rose Red from the old fairy tale canon, and folklore fans will appreciate that element of it.  Unlike most teen novels, and in a lack I felt sorely, the novel does not provide much hope for the much-abused Liga even by the end.  While allowing her to marry the Bear she fell in love with would likely be too predictable, having him marry her daughter seemed to be a depressive and unjust ending for her.  While Urdda’s own blooming sorcery did avenge Liga for the cruelties of the town youth, her story ended as it had begun, with redemption perhaps, but no joy.  Older teens may appreciate the richly developed characters, and the unresolved questions at the end leave the book practically begging for discussion.  While Tender Morsels is not for the fainthearted, it is definitely a book that will provoke thought and leave an impact on its readers.


Post a Comment


A Weaving of Words Blog Layout is designed by productive dreams Bloggerized by Blogger Template © 2009