Monday, 19 November 2012

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan is one of the more recent releases in the Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press. I have previously reviewed several collections in the series.

This is only the second Margo Lanagan book I've read and the first containing short stories (the other was Tender Morsels). Although there were only four stories in Cracklescape, I really felt like I got a feeling for the sort of stories Lanagan writes. The general feeling actually reminded me a bit of Ekaterina Sedia's stories, but with an Australian flavour rather than a Russian one (and a bit less depressing).

A few words on the stories in Cracklescape:

The Duchess Dresser is about a dresser (presumably the one on the front cover) with a mysteriously stuck drawer and the man who acquires it and puts it in his bedroom. Suffice to say the drawer isn't stuck here because the key cannot be found.

The Isles of the Sun was a strange story and perhaps my favourite in the collection. It's a somewhat modern world fairytale with a bit of a twist: as well as being told from the main child's point of view, it's also partly told from his mother's point of view. I appreciated the look at the other side of the coin. It's easy to write about the kids that go on an incredible, magical adventure, but what about the parents? Nice to see it addressed in a short story.

Bajazzle was strange. Oddly enough, the references the title evoked for me ended up having more relevance to the story that I expected. Other than that, it's an open-to-interpretation piece and I don't think I can say more about it without saying too much. That and I suspect my reaction to it says as much about me as about the story itself. Heh.

Significant Dust was two stories really. The foreground events in the main character's life — themselves told in two time lines — and the story with the dust and the possible aliens. I think I will need to reread this one when I'm less busy and stressed. I have a feeling there's a bit more to the background story than I picked up on the first time through.

All in all, this is a strong collection which fans of Lanagan will enjoy. For those who haven't encountered her work before, I recommend it to fans of magical realism, fairy tales sneaking into the real world and magic in everyday places. I'm not the biggest fan of short stories, particularly not in large doses (a definite upside of the slim Twelve Planets series), but Cracklescape has made me mentally bump White Time, another Lanagan collection waiting on one of my shelves, up my TBR.

4 / 5 stars

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