This third installment of Aussie author Margo Lanagan’s short story collections is just as bizarre and mind-bending as her previous two. My favorites include “A Good Heart,” about a medieval peasant boy who discovers that the girl he loves, a lady above his station, is harboring a dark secret, and “Under Hell, Over Heaven,” which takes place in Purgatory, where some souls try to earn their way into Heaven by forcibly transporting other unfortunate souls to Hell. “Winkie,” in which Lanagan reinterprets the benign Wee Willie Winkie from Mother Goose into a tall, scrawny, child-snatching bogeyman gave me the heebie jeebies, which were soothed away by “A Feather in the Breast of God,” a sweet story that suggests sometimes our pets come back to watch over us after death. Another thing I appreciate about Lanagan’s books is that she always includes notes at the end that let readers know where the inspiration for her weird, wonderful stories comes from. I loved the shout-out she gave to fellow Aussie Garth Nix when she wrote that the title of her last story, “Daughter of the Clay” came from reading about the Clayr in his Abhorson trilogy. If you want to take a short trip to a strange place, then these stories are just the ticket. Don’t forget to go back and check out her first two books, Black Juice (a Printz-honor title) and White Time.
Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan