Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Red Spikes, Margo Lanagan - Baby Jane

UK cover

Red Spikes is ten short stories by Margo Lanogan in a deceptively slender yet powerful volume, aimed at young adult readers.  I read and fell in love with the opening story - Baby Jane - in which we meet Dylan, our main character, and his family as they leave their house in the middle of the night.  We're not entirely sure why they are doing this, but it isn't for fun.

The story unfolds and it turns out that Dylan had picked up miniatures by the rocks earlier the day - intricately carved and painted, he decided to keep them and carry them home.  He had put them under his pillow and during the night, these miniatures had come to full-size life, basically ousting his family from their own home.

A fantastic concept! I loved it.  We were also made aware of the nightmares Dylan suffered as a younger child.  He had nightmares about creatures jumping out of his wardrobe making jabbering noises.  This all ties in with the miniatures that have come to life in the here and now.  And one of those miniatures is a heavily pregnant queen who is dressed in pregnancy battle armour.  Naturally something weird is going on here and Dylan copes admirably well under the circumstances.  This really is a superb vignette, a cut scene from a longer book, in my mind and short story I wish would be far far longerer!

Vivid storytelling here - just glorious.  Part fantasy, part dystopian something, wholly its own thing, Baby Jane blew my socks off.  It was shortlisted for the Aurealis award in 2006 (which btw, was won by Shaun Tan's The Arrival) and really is worth reading if you are in the mood for a bit Lanagan fantasm.

Australia cover - just gorgeous!

1 comment:

Jenni (Juniper's Jungle) said...

What an intriguing sounding story.