Review: Sourdough and other stories

I just finished reading the epub version of Angela Slatter’s Sourdough and other stories. My ultimate impression of this book is that it is fascinating. Slatter’s stories are described as having a fairytale quality, but not your sanitised Disneyfied fairytales. These are the cautionary tales, the stories that haunt your dreams. The storytelling style is simple but at the same time well-crafted and evocative.

In the first half 4 stories grabbed me the most. “Little Radish” gave me goosebumps. It is rare to find a story where the characters discover the rewards of real forgiveness (after being childish jerks). The triptych “Ash”, “The Story of Ink” and “Lost Things” had a tremendous impact on me. They built on each other, but stand as excellent stories in their own right.

The second half of the book builds pace, tying threads together, layering meaning, changing our perception of stories that have come before. “A Porcelain Soul” took me completely by surprise, and added tragedy to “Sister, Sister” that would otherwise have gone unremarked. Finishing with “Under the Mountain” was perfect.

The only major problem I had with this collection was a formatting glitch with the epub version. What should be italics are underlined, which makes for slightly jarring reading, but the formatting issue has no bearing on the quality of the writing. I did have some difficulties understanding “The Bones Remember Everything”, because I lost track of some earlier characters. But I finished with a real sense of satisfaction, impressed with the many threads and layers Slatter has woven together without artifice.

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