Reviewed by Matt Johns
This weighty tome consists of 658 pages of what I can only describe as probably the most depressing stories I have ever read. Despite being difficult to read in one sitting due to the nature of them, they are all well-crafted – the author is clearly intelligent and makes good use of language without being too wordy.
The subjects of the tales vary from infanticide, rape, murder, patricide, fratricide, genocide, and even has one told from the point of view of some spiders (who were witnessing humans raping and murdering). Even though this was a difficult book to read, the tales are gripping and enjoyable.
One of my favourite stories is the first in the book – “The Potato Thief Beneath Indifferent Stars”, which tells of a lonely old farmer who finds a young, green-skinned being nibbling on the potatoes in his fields. While initially suspicious of his visitor, he soon comes to cherish her. She tragically dies, but in a way helps to bring the old man closer to his previously estranged children, thereby giving the closest thing to a happy ending within this book.
Whilst not a book to devour in one sitting, it makes a good collection of tales to keep on your bedside table to dip into now and then.