Several of Lanagan’s spooky short stories start with deceptively simple, even prosaic, sentences, like “I arrived in moonlight; it wasn’t hard to find the way,” and “‘Well, at least it’s a fine night,’ said Mum.”
But these innocuous openings give little away. In what era is the story set? Does it take place in world like ours, or somewhere quite other? Are the protagonists human? Alive or dead? Answers to questions like these differ between these ten tales.
Lanagan isn’t one for big dumps of exposition. She demands a willingness to read a few pages before you’re quite sure what’s going on, and perhaps to re-read as your understanding grows. Her prose and structure are fiercely economical. I’ve enjoyed several of William Sleator’s books, but it struck me that if Sleator had written the opening “Baby Jane,” (which employs some of Sleator’s frequent tropes) it probably would’ve been a short novel, rather than a short story.
“Winkie” and “Under Hell, Over Heaven” by themselves would be enough to ensure that I’ll read more from Lanagan.
needs more demons? no.