Remember the lonely hut at the edge of a dark wood? Some will be familiar with the `The Ungrateful Dwarf' by Caroline Stahl which was reworked by the Brothers Grimm into `Snow White and Rose Red'. Both tales are influential here.
Liga's life has not been easy. Her mother died young, her father abuses her. Two of her pregnancies are aborted, but not the third. Her father dies. Liga is gang-raped, and becomes pregnant again. In her despair, she decides to throw herself and her baby off a cliff thus ending their miserable lives. But instead of dying, Liga and her baby are spirited to an alternate safe world where people are kind. In this world, Liga brings up her two daughters the peaceful Branza and the restless Urdda.
But while this alternate world is as Liga would have it, it is not impermeable. Witchcraft breaches the world, and first the thieving dwarf, Collaby Dought, and then a kind boy transformed into a bear. Collaby Dought visits more than once, but the first transformed bear leaves, and is followed by another entirely different transformed bear. And, while searching, Urdda finds a way out of this world back into the real world. Eventually, Liga and Branza must also rejoin the real world.
`It is required of you only to be here, not to be happy.'
Betrayal, incest and rape are the dark and confronting themes in this young adult novel, and the redeeming power of love also features. The real world is not always a comfortable place, but it isn't always unsafe. And there are ways of achieving safety. The magic provides a buffer for readers, enabling the issues to be identified without being overwhelming.
`Tender Morsels' is a powerful novel and like all good fairy tales confronts good and evil. Liga may be able to hide, for a while, in her alternate safe world but those of us reading know that escape is a temporary state. I found this novel engrossing, and couldn't put it down, and I would have felt the same as a teenager in the third quarter of the last century.
I liked this book, but it won't be for everyone.
- Paperback: 436 pages
- Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (9 February 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375843051
- ISBN-13: 978-0375843051
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.5 x 20.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 358 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)