The Ladies Of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

Written by Susanna Clarke
Review by Ann Oughton

From the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell comes this collection of short tales of magic and mayhem. When Strange visits the sleepy village of Grace Adieu, he advises a seemingly innocent young lady thus: ‘Magic, madam, is like wine and, if you are not used to it, it will make you drunk.’ This young lady is capable of reducing men to mice and devouring them for breakfast. “On Lickerish Hill” is a remodelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fable and Mary Queen of Scots suffers “Antickes and Frets” as she languishes, imprisoned by her cruel cousin Elizabeth I, whom she plans to overthrow by stitching curses into silks and satins she prepares as gifts. Queen Mabb appears simply as Mrs Mabb, outsmarted by a lovelorn Venetia fighting to win back her stolen beau, Captain Fox.

Magic and Faeries flit through the pages of this beautifully written book, transporting the reader through that transient gateway to a land that previously existed only in the imagination. It is, unashamedly, a collection of fairy stories for grown-ups and I am only sorry that I have reached the final page.