Title: Tender Morsels
Author: Margo Lanagan
Teen Reviewer: Shannon Finney
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan is a fantasy novel about a woman who, after suffering throughout her teenage years as a victim of unspeakable abuse, finds peace and comes to understand the meaning of true happiness. As Liga Longfield begins to blossom into adulthood, her widower father’s mistreatments turn her life into a nightmare. Also becoming a victim of the towns boys’ violence, the tremendous pain Liga feels summons a magical force that transforms her village into a protected realm of her dreams. It is there that she raises her two daughters, Branza and Urdda, in perfect tranquility, without any of the unpleasant emotions that she felt in her old life. It is not until Liga discovers that her heaven is penetrable by strange bears and other fragments of the true world that her paradise is threatened, and her and the two girls’ lives are forced to evolve into something more real, and more fulfilling.
Lanagan’s technique of story-telling interweaves characters that seem to be unconnected at first, but by the end of the novel come together and are part of the same plot-line. Although this is an interesting way to complicate a story and to involve the reader, I found the many characters hard to keep track of at times, especially when the point of view shifts in mid chapter, frequently even from third to first-person. It takes a bit, after each shift, to figure out who the speaker is, and can only be determined by the circumstances and other characters described. By the middle of the novel, I found this to be tedious. However, this was not enough to take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.
Tender Morsels is a beautifully detailed novel that any teen fantasy fan would thoroughly enjoy. The great contrast of pain and dreamlike comfort that the three extraordinary women live through is fascinating and had me very much involved in the story. This novel makes a statement about life and what is is truly important to humans that everyone can connect with. I’d recommend Tender Morsels to anyone who enjoys magical, deeply intimate stories about inspiring women.