Black Juice

Margo Lanagan
Black Juice Cover

Snow Globes


The short stories in Margo Lanagan's Black Juice remind me of snow globes. Each story depicts a unique, self-contained world with its own rules, customs, space, time. Just like a snow globe, you can look at it from all angles, but you are never going to penetrate any deeper. Any backstory about the snow globe's scene or the story must come from your imagination.

Eachstory has an atmosphere of its own, but as a reader I'm mystified as to how to situate the setting in location to the here and now. For most of them it is hard to tell if the setting is Earth, an alternate Earth or some fantasy world. Some seem vaguely medieval or pre-industrial. Others seem post-apocalyptic and low-tech.

Unfortunately, any attempt to discuss a story in this review would ruin it. Suffice it to say, that beyond the settings, the characters and situations are entirely unique. They deal with wedding rituals, serial killers, dying grandmothers, capital punishment, polygynous cults, and hordes of locust-like monsters. Looking at this list, you might ask: This is a Young Adult book? I asked myself the same thing as I read it. Besides the fact that most of the protagonists are adolescents or in their 20s, I don't see why this book is classified as YA. It's not that I think the young adults would not like the book, but I certainly see how adults would. Any fans of the short stories of Neil Gaiman or Kelly Link will like these stories as well. My favorite stories are "Singing My Sister Down," "Red Nose Day." "Sweet Pippit," and "House of the Many."