From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Clarke's bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
should be pleased with this book, as the stories collected here are very much cut from the same cloth. The stories (seven previously published and one original tale, "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner") deal with fairies and the history of English magic, and are told in the same Victorian style that made JS&MN
so distinct. Prebble (who also narrated JS&MN
) returns and once again triumphantly brings Clarke's richly imagined world to life. Sharing narrative duties this time around is Porter, who is equally skilled at playing prim and high-born ladies as she is using more folksy tones in "On Lickerish Hill." The footnotes that bogged down the audio edition of JS&MN
are mostly absent, and the narrators' very different styles work well to give each story its own distinct feel. A lyrical and thoroughly enjoyable collection from a burgeoning master of fantasy literature.
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Revisiting characters and landscapes she created in her best-selling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
(2004), Clarke has crafted eight quirky and devious stories to delight her fans. In the title story, Mr. Strange himself reappears and tangles with three country witches. "On Lickerish Hill" is a clever retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin," with a twist. In "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," the redoubtable hero follows his horse into Wall, a village created by Neil Gaiman, and encounters a woman whose embroidery tells the future. The story set farthest back in time has Mary, Queen of Scots, trying to kill Queen Elizabeth with a skirt. And in the final story, the Raven King himself is outwitted by his lowliest subject. All but one of the stories takes place in or around 1811, and Clarke uses the language, diction, and historical settings beautifully, just hinting at Jane Austen. Each character is elegantly drawn and comes to life on the page. These stories are charming, engaging, and deceptively simple. Elizabeth DickieCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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