Short, peculiar, inexplicable: This won’t be for everyone.
When Bald the farmer dies, his miserable son, Bones, is determined to get rid of Fat the fairy, who lives on the farm, once and for all. Their rivalry sets off a series of interconnected tales, each one dark and surreal and imbued with a kind of meaning, although the meaning is not always immediately apparent—and there’s little to no morality on display, although there are glimmers of a very dark sense of absurdity. While there are occasional moments of kindness (a vindictive, nearly footless pig tries to ensure the prettiest pig’s trotter ends up in a stew but sacrifices herself instead at the last moment; a misfit spider finds love), most of the tales are dark indeed. A lovelorn mouse sets up his rival for defeat by cat; a tulip becomes an assassin of smaller flowers; and Fat and Bones both come to nasty ends. The tales link together across the space of a single day, at the end of which peace reigns on the farm. Tonally these read a bit like folk or fairy tales, but the edges are sharp; the dark, ink-blotted design and pen-and-ink art make this an object to admire as well as read.
Strange and strangely compelling, this is one of those books that needs the right reader—who will eat it up. (Short stories. 14 & up)