Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Tender Morsels is a reimagining of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale called Snow-White and Rose-Red. Margo Lanagan takes this short tale and gives it such a breadth and depth that you are bound to the characters and their life journeys. But this new version is just as dark as it is enchanting.
The story starts out with a young girl named Liga. She lives with her father in a run down cabin in the forest near the village. But Liga’s father is not a nice man. He routinely sexually assaults her and goes to the village witch for potions that will cause Liga to miscarry. Liga is young and naive and doesn’t understand what is going on with her body or why her father is so horrendous. Soon she learns that she is pregnant again and decides to hide the fact from her father. When he discovers it he runs to the witch again for stronger potions but on his way back to Liga he is run over by a carriage and dies.
Now Liga is alone except for a new baby daughter. One day she is discovered in the woods by a gang of young men from the village. Liga hides her baby and tries to hide but the boys find her and force themselves upon her. Afterwards she has had too much pain in her life she decides that she and her baby shall leap off a nearby cliff and end it all.
As she is ready to kill her child she is stopped by a glowing magical creature. Liga is given two magic gems, a white one and a red one. The creature instructs her to plant one on either side of her door and she will be troubled no more. Liga does as she is told and on the next morning discovers that her cabin looks brand new and all traces of her father are gone. Everyone in the village likes her and the families of they boys who raped her have vanished as if they were erased from the world.
Liga discovers that she is pregnant again, from the group of boys, and decides to raise her two daughters in the wonderful new world where peace and tranquility reign.
Unfortunately for Liga the world hasn’t changed. She has been unknowingly transported to a magical paradise. The real world still exists and people will find a way to intrude on Liga’s happiness. When that occurs will Liga and her daughters be strong enough to experience the pain and ugliness that only the real world can provide?
Tender Morsels is a superb book and I highly recommend it to everyone. Due to some of the early scenes it is appropriate for ages 14 and up.