It’s Mad Martha with you today and I bring to you a special little tome of interconnected short stories featuring a range of delightfully wicked characters, topped off with some wonderfully atmospheric illustration. Take my hand and let’s enter the world of Fat and Bones…
Fat & Bones and Other Stories by Larissa Theule is a collection of short, interconnected stories set on Bones’s mother’s farm. Before we go much further, it should be pointed out that Bones is a grown up and Fat is a tricksy fairy – so named because of his paunch. The first story opens with the death of Bones’s father and the somewhat accidental commencement of open hostility between Bones and Fat. As we delve deeper into this bizarre little world, we discover that Bones is fond of Pig Foot Stew, and as a result, most of the porkers inhabiting the farm are missing a little something below at least one ankle. Other occupants of the farm that we meet along the way include a tea-loving spider who wants to be brave and a pair of flowers whose friendship is about to be sorely tested. But who is the narrator of these tales, the spinner of these odd and unsettling yarns? You’ll just have to read and see!
If fairies were real
would they be starlight and charm?
Or lardy and sly?
As you can probably guess from the cover this book has a feel of magical realism, with strange and unexpected twists emerging in every one of the interlaced stories. The characters are at once likeable and a bit off-putting, their actions two parts self-serving and one part self-sacrificing. In each of the stories there’s a little bit of humour to offset the overarching fog of bleakness and decay that seems to surround the farm and its residents.
The illustrations perfectly complement the tone of the stories and are masterfully completed, really adding to the overall reading experience. Once again I would recommend getting this book in print, rather than in digital form, because it was hard to get the full impact of the illustrations having to flick back and forth through digital pages to see the whole image in most cases.
The stories are short and interspersed with interjections from the mysterious narrator and I easily managed the book in one sitting. As the book is for younger readers though, it would be perfect for a read-aloud as the tales provide obvious stopping points during which readers may muse about folk of the farm. I very much enjoyed this book for its original characters and the atmospheric setting and narrative style. The illustrations are just a beautifully crafted bonus.
This might be a good pick in the lead up to Halloween if you are looking for something a bit unsettling and odd, but not actually scary, in the middle grade age bracket.
Yours in delightful oddity,
* I received a digital copy of this title for review from the publisher via Netgalley *