Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Poison Eaters & Other Stories

So unless you've been living under a rock, or perhaps a bridge, you should have heard of Holly Black. She did this Spiderwick series... which became a movie after selling more copies than there are specks of glitter in Stephanie Meyer's work. And before that she wrote Tithe, an amazing surburban dark fantasy. So what the hell is she doing writing short stories? The answer is simple: she's kicking ass!

Check out The Poison Eaters & Other Stories. Don't be intimidated by the spooky girl on the cover. Sure, you'd have to be crazy to ask her (the cover girl, not Holly) out on a date. She looks like the sort that would ask if you've got the genetic traits to smell cyanide as bitter almonds, while wearing a smile that would make Megan Fox envious.

But she's an excellent guide for the stories inside the book. She'll show you a dangerous black market where you can buy anything from pistols to potions, a coffee shop in NYC where faeries can be found--we're not talking about Tinkerbell, but the sort that if you look at them the wrong way will pluck out your eye--and a boy who finds himself howling in anguish while his hunger grows.

Actually much of the stories are about different sorts of hunger--for pretty clothes, for lost love, for blood. Don't fool yourself into thinking that Holly's stories are only for girls who want to wear faux wings in October or who wear too much eyeliner. No, her stories are for all of us.

Take "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" -- one of the collection's best and the first story you should/must/have to read. A girl is struggling not to give in to vampirism (take that Edward!) and the only way for her to resist is by staying so drunk on cheap liquor that she can't stand upright let alone bite anyone. Sound like something you'd see on the Disney Channel? Nope.

Or what about "Virgin." Yeah, you're half-expecting the story to be about something else than getting laid. Don't fear, there are no bait-and-switches with this story about a guy and a unicorn (yes, you read that right), but there is a nasty trick played at the end for both the reader and the girl he falls for. And, yes, you'll think about how hungry she is when you read the last lines.

"Paper Cuts Scissors" is for all you boys that find yourself falling for that girl that either escapes or has one up on you. Reading it won't make amends but it will be satisfying, especially if you happen to be a book nerd (which, if you're reading this blog, you must be!) when a library literally comes to life.

I could go on and on about the other stories. Each of them delicious and wicked and dark but somehow more human than the fey folk Holly has been credited for making a phenomenon. Maybe because they make you feel something, hunger for things that we want but can never truly have.

I hope I bullied you into reading this. Don't make me bare my teeth. They aren't sharp, don't be silly. But they are used to wryly smiling after finishing one of Holly's stories. Now go get the book. And if you look in the mirror after finishing even one story, see what sort of hungry grin you're wearing.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for (and looking forward to) this one!