Lanagan follows White Time, Black Juice, and Red Spikes with a fourth short story collection, featuring 10 singular tales, nearly all of which were previously published in the U.S. and abroad. She opens with the visceral “The Point of Roses,” in which a boy’s psychic ability to guess what something is—a rose, an ashtray, a toy—has astonishing consequences: “A sweet-scented shock hit Billy, a velvety punch. Down the slope he tumbled, alone in a storm of blooms.” In “An Honest Day’s Work,” a disabled boy gets a chance to be useful when the local equivalent of shipbreakers bring an aircraft carrier–sized alien down out of the “ether” to be stripped for food and spare parts. “Night of the Firstlings” is an eccentric and at times terrifying retelling of the plagues of Egypt, while the collection’s new story, “Into the Clouds on High,” recalls the author’s recent The Brides of Rollrock Island, with a woman caught between the pull of her family and that of her supernatural nature. Haunt-ing, gorgeous, and sometimes painful, Lanagan’s stories are unlike anything else in fantasy literature. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (May)
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2013:
“Haunting, gorgeous, and sometimes painful, Lanagan’s stories are unlike anything else in fantasy literature.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2013:
"Lanagan unravels familiar myths and fairy tales, weaving them into unique, sharply resonant forms in this characteristically stunning collection...Familiar roots and accessible themes make this strong collection a good introduction to Lanagan’s mind-bending work."
Booklist, February 15, 2013:
"Lanagan's literary chops are nearly unrivaled in YA lit, and any release from her will draw excitement, scrutiny, and awards consideration."
The Horn Book, May/June 2013:
"These imaginative works demand much of their readers, occasionally providing catharsis and unfailingly provoking thought and discussion."
School Library Journal, April 2013:
"This is meaty fare, layered with meaning and thick with a richness of imagination. Yellowcake is as much about the telling as it is about the tales."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June 2013:
"The familiarity of the stories and themes provide an access point to Lanagan’s innovative sentence structure and dense, eloquent prose, while the emotional rawness of the tales, focusing intensely on loss and disillusionment, is powerful enough to grab even less sophisticated readers. The opening dialogues of each story serve as both an invitation and a disorientation, and by the end of the collection, readers will have the satisfying feeling that they have just assembled a strange and wondrous puzzle."
"Exquisite. Lanagan's prose is challenging and rewarding in equal measure, creating resonances that most writers can only dream of; and her characters and situations seethe with emotional power."
Library Media Connection:
"Lanagan, master of the strange, disturbing, and familiar has again written a collection of stories which will entertain, enthrall, and challenge readers."
Lanagan unravels familiar myths and fairy tales, weaving them into unique, sharply resonant forms in this characteristically stunning collection. Reading Lanagan, like learning a language by total immersion, involves a leap of faith. Each tale conjures a world with unique laws and lawbreakers. Rather than being coddled by comforting dollops of exposition, readers dive into the murky unknown. Spellbound, they reach the end, astonished at how far from shore they've traveled. The most powerful of these tales reworks Hans Christian Andersen's "The Tinderbox," drawing on its creepy, amoral ambiance to explore the spoils and costs of war. "Rapunzel" morphs into a sunnier tale but with an eldritch feel. Supported by his loving wife and apprentice-daughter, Charon ferries dead souls across the Styx. However strange the details (a sentient building lumbers into the sea; a fascinator plies his trade), the stories rest on bedrock human emotions. Characters act out of fear, anger, love--to stop the pain, to make sense of the senseless, to protect family. The shipbreaking underclass who take apart horrifying vessels are decent folk at heart. In a tale exploring the paradoxical complexities of loss, a mother floats away from the family desperate to keep her. Traveling such elusive terrain requires an oblique approach, and Lanagan, like Emily Dickinson, tells it "slant." Familiar roots and accessible themes make this strong collection a good introduction to Lanagan's mind-bending work. (author's note) (Fantasy/short stories. 14 & up)