The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

(8.1/10) This is a hugely enjoyable book and one that will be read more that once.

A book of short stories from the Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell may seem a departure of sorts after writing what is after all a tome (and a half), however, there has been no compromise here in Clarke's lyrical writing style or her talent for storytelling, instead we find a book of eight very grown up fairy tales that act as a delicious late night snack to the main course that was her first novel. Just because this is a shorter book does not mean there has been any short changing of the reader where detail is concerned. Here you will find footnotes aplenty and a rather wonderful introduction from a Professor of Sidhe (Faerie) studies. The introduction serves not only to explain a little of the world of Faerie but to remind the reader of certain characters found in Clarke's bestseller that can be found once again in this book such as Jonathan Strange (The Ladies of Grace Adieu) and the Raven King (John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner). Other characters to be found include none other that Mary, Queen of Scots and a number of dark, macabre and not un-Brother's-Grim-like characters that serve to shock and entertain in equal measure.

Beyond the heap of cabbage leaves and other dark, decaying matter, the path led past a sad-looking pond and up a steep bank. At the top of the bank was a smooth expanse of bright green grass, at one end of which a dozen or so tall stones and slates were piled together. It was possible they were intended for a bee-hive, but it was equally possible that they were simply left over from some ancient wall. Tall flowers grew behind them – meadowsweet, cow parsley and buttercups – so that it was the easiest thing in the world to fancy one was looking at a tower or castle-keep on the edge of an ancient wood.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

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