July 2021 Indie Next Recommended Book
[STARRED REVIEW] “Liu’s mastery of so many different subgenres astounds, and her ear for language carries each story forward on gorgeously crafted sentences. This is a must-read”
—Publishers Weekly, Top-10 forthcoming SF/F/H title
New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut collection of dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction, you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.
Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.
Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu's first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.
Liu (the Monstress series) charms with this spellbinding collection of six short stories and one novella. The standouts are "The Briar and the Rose," a darkly fascinating retelling of "Sleeping Beauty," in which a female duelist discovers her witch employer is living in the stolen body of Princess Rose, and helps Rose to regain it; and "Call Her Savage," a steampunk western set during the Opium Wars and following half-Chinese antiheroine Lady Marshal as she struggles to be the hero others need her to be. Also of note are the haunting and eerie, "Sympathy for the Bones"; "The Last Dignity of Man," about a would-be supervillain who realizes he must be his own superman; and two stories set in the world of Liu's Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series: the atmospheric historical fantasy, "Where the Heart Lives," which serves as a prequel to the series, and the dystopian "After the Blood," about Amish vampires, set in the series's future. The title novella offers a more standard secondary world fantasy, about a runaway princess drawn to an enchanted forest, but uses this familiar plot to probe the character's feelings of being trapped. Liu's mastery of so many different subgenres astounds, and her ear for language carries each story forward on gorgeously crafted sentences. This is a must-read. \n