Fifteen-year-old village girl Liga, emotionally and physically battered from bearing two children, one beget through incest, the other through rape, is given a well deserved respite when the Universe smiles on her by magically transporting her to her own personal Heaven, a gentle, patient version of the rough medieval-like world she once knew. Here, there are no brutal fathers, no leering village boys, no stone-faced grummas to judge her. There is only a beautiful little cottage in the middle of a wood populated with friendly beasts, (including a gentle enchanted man-bear who treats Liga’s children like his own cubs) and a welcoming village full of kind and smiling people who never lie or betray. Here, Liga raises her two sweet daughters, fair Branza and dark Urdda, in perfect peace. But the membrane between Liga’s heaven and the real world has grown thin over the years, allowing some who are not as pure-hearted as Liga and her daughters to enter. And likewise, the girls discover they can pass through into the real world of Liga’s tortured past. When teenage Urdda accidentally pushes through into the material world one day while exploring, she finds a place of passion and pain that is completely opposite of her woody haven. She doesn’t want to leave, but she also can’t bear the thought of leaving her beloved mother and sister behind. With the help of a powerful sorceress, she attempts to bring them to her, and sets into motion a chain of events that shakes her family to their core and irrevocably changes the path of their combined destiny. What I have described here barely scratches the surface of the captivating, complex world Aussie author Lanagan has created. Pushing the boundaries of YA literature, this dark, violent fairy tale, containing elements of everything from The Color Purple to the Grimm Brothers’ Bearskin, is rife with themes of memory, identity, lost childhood, family and what it means to grow up. You will need to digest these Tender Morsels for yourself to discover the magnetic power of her dense, gorgeous prose. Deeply imaginative and beautifully written, this is easily one of the best books of 2008.