New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.
“The Tangleroot Palace is charming and ruthless. Tales that feel new yet grounded in the infinitely ancient, a mythology for the coming age.”
—Angela Slatter, author of The Bitterwood Bible
“Marjorie Liu is magic! Her writing is passionate, lyric, gritty, and riveting. She belongs high on everyone’s must-read list.”
—Elizabeth Lowell, author of Only Mine
Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.
Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.
“Love is powerful, replied the storytellers. Love is divine. That is the answer to every tale we tell. What sleeps can always be awakened with love.”The Tangleroot Palace, Marjorie Liu
I received an e-ARC copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Tangleroot Palace is now currently available on all platforms.
I’ve been introduced to Marjorie Liu’s work because of Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening, and I have been eager to see her written work after that. And oh boy, this short story anthology held on to the promise of what I’ve seen from her so far, and delivered in great heights.
The Tangleroot Palace is a short story collection that holds a wide range of genres, ranging from fantasy, alternative history, horror, and post-apocalyptic science fiction, but all these stories have a central surrounding theme to them that I loved to see depicted. While most of them aren’t connected with one another, some similarities were there that it was almost uncanny at how they aren’t connected (supposedly). I also loved the notes she had included in the end of each novella about its origin and creative writing process.
Eerie yet highly fascinating collection of tales
1. “Sympathy of Bones” (3.5/5 🌟) – a story about witches, dark magic, and a lot of voodoo! It’s a very different take on voodoo magic, and together with its vague yet slowly unraveled story progression, it was just the story with the right elements of fantasy and horror, all rolled into one.
2. “Briar and Rose” (5/5 🌟) – This story is possibly my most favorite out of all. It was a very twisted retelling of Sleeping Beauty featuring a witch who steals the body and life of her victims for her personal gain, and her bodyguard. It was just so deviant and mind-boggling that I loved it immediately.
3. “Call Her Savage” (3.5/5 🌟)- This alternate history story wherein China and Britain are at war with each other, and genetic manipulation comes into play. I may not personally be well-informed with this portion of history, but the main character’s strength and circumstances, as well as the genetic engineering done here, appealed to me very much.
4. ‘The Last Dignity of Man” (4/5🌟)- An anti-hero (villain-like?) story featuring a bright and young mad scientist who has a fascination for comic book heroes, and a multi-billion corporation with a top secret government project. Even though I haven’t read any of the author’s works for Marvel comics yet, I could already tell how her story would probably portray on its pages just by this story alone. I could easily picture it in my head as I would have on comic book panels.
5. “Where the Heart Lives” (3/5🌟) – A compelling story of a young woman finding herself working for a strange family in an equally strange yet magical forest but full of unknown creatures. While this might be my least favorite among all the stories, it was just as entertaining, and super whimsical.
6. “After the Blood” (4/5🌟)- A post-apocalyptic story featuring a deadly virus pandemic and Amish vampires! I’m a sucker (pun intended) for any vampire story, so to see one on this collection got me even more excited. It was both amusing and puzzling to see in this story that the Amish people (er, some of them are vampires), had the advantage to survive an apocalypse because of their lifestyle.
7. “Tangleroot Palace” (5/5🌟) – A classic princess story of her father marrying her off to a ruthless warlord of another kingdom, and escapes to seek out her own path. Another favorite of mine, and even though it was so trope-y and predictable, I found myself really enjoying it because of the characters’ banter and dynamics. I really wish this has a more extended story!
This collection has been one thrilling and compelling read, and I am still wishing that these stories would get explored more in the future. I am highly recommending this anthology for everyone, because it is so worth it and all the short stories included can cater to any reader with specific preferences.
About The Author
Marjorie Liu is an attorney and New York Times bestselling novelist and comic book writer. Her work at Marvel includes X-23, Black Widow, Han Solo, Dark Wolverine and Astonishing X-Men, for which she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the LGBTQ community. She is also the co-creator of Monstress from Image Comics, which has won multiple Hugo Awards, British Fantasy Awards, the Harvey Award, and five Eisner Awards, making Liu the first-ever woman (and woman of color) to win an Eisner in the Best Writer category. She teaches comic book writing at MIT.