[STARRED REVIEW] “A collection of short stories exploring the emotional complexity, diverse physicality, and layered sexuality of resourceful women.....The only drawback to these seven stories is that readers will want far more time in each world.”—Kirkus
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
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.
A Note From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly Top-10 SF/F/H 2021 upcoming title
[STARRED REVIEW] “Liu (the Monstress series) charms with this spellbinding collection of six short stories and one novella. The standouts are “The Briar and the Rose,” a darkly fascinating retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” in which a female duelist discovers her witch employer is living in the stolen body of Princess Rose, and helps Rose to regain it; and “Call Her Savage,” a steampunk western set during the Opium Wars and following half-Chinese antiheroine Lady Marshal as she struggles to be the hero others need her to be. Also of note are the haunting and eerie, “Sympathy for the Bones”; “The Last Dignity of Man,” about a would-be supervillain who realizes he must be his own superman; and two stories set in the world of Liu’s Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series: the atmospheric historical fantasy, “Where the Heart Lives,” which serves as a prequel to the series, and the dystopian “After the Blood,” about Amish vampires, set in the series’s future. The title novella offers a more standard secondary world fantasy, about a runaway princess drawn to an enchanted forest, but uses this familiar plot to probe the character’s feelings of being trapped. Liu’s mastery of so many different subgenres astounds, and her ear for language carries each story forward on gorgeously crafted sentences. This is a must-read.”
[STARRED REVIEW] “A collection of short stories exploring the emotional complexity, diverse physicality, and layered sexuality of resourceful women. In ‘Sympathy for the Bones,’ Clora is old Ruth’s unwilling apprentice witch in Kentucky, forced to murder men with hoodoo magic or surrender her soul. Having lost her family, Clora longs to know what it feels like to love and be loved, even as she plans her escape. Another kind of escape is brewing in ‘The Briar and the Rose,’ a retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ only this time the charming prince is a brown warrior-woman who must walk the dangerous line between freeing the woman she’s come to love and her duty to her mistress¬—the sorceress who inhabits Rose’s body six days out of seven. In ‘Call Her Savage,’ a striking magical alternate history, ex–Lady Marshall Xīng MacNamara—who comes from New China, on the Pacifica coast of an America allied with its Native peoples—must kill her former lover Maude in order to stop the Redcoats from colonizing the world. Rounding out the collection are a story about Amish vampires and a secret marriage in a plague-ridden future that gingerly explores trauma and strength; a gay wannabe-supervillain looking for a superhero to love him in a story that asks what true vulnerability can awaken; and a princess, determined to forge her own path through sentient trees and evil queens, who wrestles with how to remain true to duty, heart, and mind. Within each tale, author Liu gives a masterclass in the art of storytelling. She doesn’t waste a word or a comma, nor does she miss an opportunity to dive into what makes us human, no matter who we are or who we love. In the title novella, the protagonist learns that “some trees are bark and root, and some trees have soul and teeth.” So, too, will readers find that Liu’s writing is all ‘soul and teeth.’ Neither will release them quickly. The only drawback to these seven stories is that readers will want far more time in each world.”
[STARRED REVIEW] “In The Tangleroot Palace, Marjorie Liu gathers six previously published short stories and an original novella in a powerful collection of speculative fiction, showcasing the talent that's won her several Eisner and Hugo awards. With a range of themes and settings, the stories in The Tangleroot Palace showcase immersive world building and emotionally evocative prose.”
[STARRED REVIEW] “Marjorie Liu gathers six previously published short stories and an original novella in a powerful collection of speculative fiction, showcasing the talent that's won her several Eisner and Hugo awards. With a range of themes and settings, the stories in The Tangleroot Palace showcase immersive world building and emotionally evocative prose, the same writing that has made her so successful in her paranormal romance novels and in powerhouse comics like Monstress (with Sana Takeda).”
“This is a superb collection from start to finish. Mysterious, beautiful and strange, harsh and charming, it fires the emotional palate.”
—Charles de Lint, author of the Newford series
“A spellbinding collection.”
5/5 stars. “The Tangleroot Palace was, as I expected, brilliant. Each story was unique, wonderful and magical.”
—Just Geeking By
“Beautifully written, deeply engaging, and full of wonder and strong female characters.”
“Vivid writing that lights up my brain. Evocative settings. Memorable characters engaged in dark struggles. When I read Marjorie Liu’s stories, I know I’m in the hands of a master.”
—Carrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville series
“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
“Rich and evocative tales with just the right amount of bite.”
—Kelley Armstrong, author of Bitten
“Liu’s astonishing range reaches stunning heights of savagery and tenderness, with groundbreaking visions of fairy tales, alternate history, and high fantasy, even challenging the conventions of feminism itself. Longtime fans and new readers alike will be swept away by the tragic romance, nail-biting adventure, and dread-inducing terror found within these boundary-pushing texts, where representation is the key ingredient to supremely engaging storylines, accessible to all. . . . Liu flourishes as a transformative storyteller committed to inclusivity. Her effort to emphasize overlooked or ignored perspectives is integral to the ongoing evolution of fantasy literature. The Tangleroot Palace is just a small sample of her formidable skills, a multi-dimensional talent whose voice resounds with breathtaking force.”
“A spellbinding collection.”
“Ferociously inventive, deliciously eerie, The Tangleroot Palace both chills and enchants. Don’t be afraid: Liu’s elegantly artful stories will coil around you, devour you, and you won’t even mind being consumed.”
—Shana Abé, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
“Marjorie Liu captivates with her evocative language an instinct for adjusting the story’s tone according to its content and the ideal narrative perspective . . . Liu provides this collection with the understanding that happiness as well as power and strength are highly individual, and that personal things and the outcome of one’s personal identity is unpredictable. These are journeys to strength and self-discovery, and where better to start than in a fantastical world full of magic and mysteries.”
—Ancillary Review of Books
“Some authors excel at one thing; others can do it all. Whether it’s fairy tales or superheroes or the post-apocalypse, Liu always delivers, and with her own unique spin.”
—Marie Brennan, author of Driftwood
—Book Lover’s Boudoir
5/5 Stars. “Each tale brought something beautiful and totally original to the table and I truly felt completely immersed in every sentence Liu wrote.”
—A Series of Various Events
*Review copy mailings to leading newspaper, magazine, and fiction reviewers, and specialty science fiction, pop culture, and graphic novel-oriented outlets
*Digital ARCs available via NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Goodreads; additional print available upon request
*Online promotional rollout to include blog tour, interviews, radio, and podcasts
*Social media push by the author and publisher via Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads
*Author appearances at bookstores, trade shows, genre-themed conventions, and virtual events TBD
Average rating from 123 members
This book is a true ode to beauty not only of language but also of the stories written here. The author presents us with a book with seven tales covering different stories about vampires, witches, princesses with powers, scientists who play gods, etc. All characters featured in the stories are beautifully described: they suffer, feel, love, fight, and convey all their emotions to the reader. Strong, brave, and very human characters are running through these pages. We can find love stories that go beyond any prejudice. Although the tales are short and the stories aren't told from the beginning, their reading hooks you from the first word and does not let you go to the endpoint of each narration. It only takes one word to resume the whole book: perfect.
The Tangleroot Palace is probably one of the best short story collections I’ve ever read. I loved Marjorie Liu’s Monstress series, but I had never tried any of her short stories before now. Each and every one of the stories here is one you want to see more of. They are, at once, perfectly paced and yet not nearly long enough. I won’t go through each story individually because I wouldn’t really have much new to say about each one after a point, but there wasn’t a single story in this collection I didn’t love. There’s a fair bit of variety in genre — all are speculative fiction, but in amongst that you have fantasy, science fiction, alternative history and a bit of a dystopia too. The best part of this collection, I think, is that it doesn’t matter what genre or plot Marjorie Liu chooses to write about, you’re always fully absorbed in it by the end of the first paragraph. She has this knack of worldbuilding so seamlessly along the way too, which is great because there’s not exactly time in short stories for info-dumps. But at the same time, it’s that skill that makes me desperate to see what she’d do with a full length book. And then, obviously, there are the characters. I think probably the best way to illustrate just how good Liu is with characters is this: in a story about a man with a Lex Luthor kink (yeah), creating giant waste-eating worms, I found myself nearly crying. Really then, this is one you do not want to miss out on.
I cannot wait to write an expansive review about this book, this collection is full of strong women, dark magic and all the questions we have asked once in our life. Hauntingly beautiful and entrancing, some terrifying because of the closeness to our reality. All of them full of truths. ¿What would you do for love/live/freedom/power...? What and who are you willing to sacrifice?
Marjorie Lui is an excellent writer who creates vivid worlds and characters. This collection of her short stories is well worth the read. Ms. Lui explains that this is the first collection of her short stories. She ties each story into its backstory. The stories are in different genres but each is fascinating and well done. I highly recommend giving this a try. I received a free copy. I am leaving my honest review.
ARC received by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As someone who has only read comics from Marjorie Liu this was a great introduction to her novels. I really loved every story in this series. There is always the one story that sticks out as a little boring in an anthology to me and there was one in this as well but that is just me. I can bet that some people would love that story while I didn't which always happens. Still, I do have to say that at least this one was just a little off to me and I did finish it while there have been some short stories that I totally could not read and felt like I needed some bleach for my eyes. I would highly suggest this anthology for someone like me who is new to Marjorie Liu's novels and want to see what they are like.
I am not usually one for short stories but I've been reading Marjorie M Liu for years so I took a chance. I'm SO glad I did. This collection of stories was amazing. It felt inventive and imaginative, while at the same time created a truly nostalgic feeling of reading one of the old fairy tale anthologies.
<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The Tangleroot Palace: Stories by Marjorie M. Lui is the authors debut story collection that includes six previously released stories and one new novella that has dangerous magic and even more dangerous women. That tag line was what got me interested in this collection as the only other thing that I've read by Marjorie Liu is the Monstress graphic novel series. However, this collection is also about hope and making your own destiny. Each story made me fall in love with the characters and world and though I would love more each story had a satisfyingly ending. I received a review copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The stories included are:</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Sympathy for the Bones which focuses on a young woman Martha who works for the old witch in town that uses bone magic to hurt people and grant others wishes. Martha can't escape because the witch owns her soul but she finds a way to make her own way in life though that freedom does cost her. This is a very creepy story that sucked me in and made me keep reading. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The Briar and The Rose is a take on Sleeping Beauty but in this world the witch has taken over the body of a young woman name Rose. The witch has a Duelist in her service who finds out what the witch has done, meets and falls in love with Rose. The story is about their love and women saving each other. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Call Her Savage is a Chinese inspired steampunk story where the main character Xing, who is considered a hero though she doesn't want to be any more, ends up fighting an old friend to try and stop the march of war. This story throws you into the action but gives you just enough world building to understand the setting and the stakes for the characters. I would love there to be more stories in this world but the ending felt right. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The Last Dignity of Man the follows a rich man named Alexander Lutheran who in many way emulates Lex Luthor from the Superman comics as he believes that maybe if theirs a supervillain a superhero has to come out to save the day. However, its clear that Alexander knows that its not real he also knows that if he's the one ding these not great things he might be able to stop someone worse. Though that's the main plot of the story its more about loneliness and hope that there is love out there for everyone. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Where the Heart Lives is the most fairytale like of all these stories. We follow Lucy who is sent to work for Miss Lindsay who maintains a property in the woods where many people come to bury their loved ones. However, the forest is inhabited by "ghost" that try to steal other way. It turns out that its the fairy queen of the forest that takes them. The story itself is mostly about heart break and how love and family make people vulnerable and stronger. This story is also an early prequel to the Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series but you don't need to know anything about the series to read this story. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>After the Blood is about a world where plague has killed off most of the world and forest grew up around the old cities but are not natural as magic is involved though many don't want to believe it. The communities that have survived are mostly the Amish and those who grew up around them. In this world some people have been turned into vampires and zombie like creatures attack the settlements. The story follows Amanda who due to the nature of her blood can use it to protect land and building from these creatures. After her friend Steven is found out to be a vampire they save what is left of his family and decided that they end to move from this settlement. This is a possible future for the Dirk & Steele series but again you don't need to know anything about the series to read and understand this story. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Tangleroot Palace is the new novella for this collection. We follow Sally who is a princess about to be forced to marry a fearsome warlord to help protect her fathers kingdom. She doesn't want to marry and goes on a journey to find answers in the Tangleroot Forest and is full of magic and can trap people. Along the way she meets a traveling band of performers led by Mickel Thorn and Sally realizes that she is starting to fall in love with Mickel but still wants to find her answers. Sally ends up in the forest and confronts the queen that is trapped there who tries to force Sally to free her. In the end Sally saves herself and Mickel, who turns out to be the warlord but all of his actions are just stories. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Overall, I loved this story collection. A few I felt where better than others but I liked everything. If you like any of Marjorie Liu's other work or if the description of this collection sounds like something you would like then I would recommend that you read it. Currently its scheduled to release in June 2021.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->
I don't really read a lot of short stories since I find that I am not able to connect with the characters or the story. However, this was not the case for Marjorie Liu's Tangleroot Palace. Each story, despite being short, is perfectly paced. I loved every single story. The characters and world-building felt so vivid which is amazing since there wasn't a lot of room for the author to work with. With that being said, I am very excited to see how Marjorie Liu would do with a full-length novel.
Warrior women, runaway princesses, faery queens, post pandemic apocalypse, amish vampires, killer dolls, depressed evil villain billionaires- Do I have your attention yet? I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read Marjorie Liu's debut collection of short stories. I was swept up completely in her world and I loved it there. The collection consists of seven short stories all set in vastly different fantasy worlds. Each story was brutal and raw whilst still being magical. I loved each of the main characters and the stories were so unique from one another! I adored the short insights she gave at the end of each of her stories.. Where she wrote them, what was going on in her life, what sparked her idea. If I am being honest I was in love with Marjorie and her writing even from her thoughtful and witty introduction. My favourite of the stories was "Sympathy for the bones." It hooked me right in. I found with every story I would get a sense of dread when I remembered it was a "short story" and I would need to say goodbye to the place too quickly. That must be the sign of a great tale, right? (CW for this book: discussion of rape/sexual assault, death, graphic injury description). (Review also posted on blog and goodreads. Links provided).
ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Before this, my experience with Marjorie Liu's work was primarily through her comic series Monstress, which is excellent, lush, and a feminist asian steampunk/fantasy. I was delighted to expand my experience of Liu's work with these short stories. Her writing is impressive - it's clever and engaging, and even when she retreads old tales (like her sleeping beauty variant) the material still feels unique and dark,
This is a new author for me. I like reading short stories of an author I haven’t read before. It can be a good way of getting to know an author’s style. I thought the stories in The Tangleroot Palace were all excellent. I’ll definitely read more of the author’s work. The stories are an interesting mix of fantasy, horror and some original mythology. In my experience, most story collection has at least one that doesn’t quite work but every story in this collection is excellent. I liked the fact the stories are all quite different. I enjoyed all of the stories but my favourites were Sympathy For The Bones, The Briar And The Rose and the title story.
I hadn't read anything my Marjorie Liu prior to the Monstress series, but with how much I love that, combined with the stunning cover by Sana Takeda, how could I resist her short story collection? A sweet sapphic Sleeping Beauty retelling, a runaway princess finds a new quirky family, an apprentice using dolls to seek revenge on her teacher, a villain's shot at redemption. Liu's stories gave me goosebumps, made me swoon, and at times cracked me up. This definitely a collection to have.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! First off, I want to say that I've enjoyed reading Majorie Liu's comics from Marvel, as well as her most recent best-selling series, Monstress. As she writes in the Introduction, Majorie Liu may have been the first woman of color writing for Marvel Comics. As a Chinese-American myself, I want to support #ownvoices authors as much as possible during this time. When I saw that I was approved to read this ARC ahead of its release date, I was so excited! Thank you again to the publisher for giving me this opportunity! The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu is an eclectic, imaginative collection of prose short stories by a visionary writer. The short story collection includes retellings of fairy tales, gothic horror, alternate-realities with magic, science fiction, and fantasy. Really, this book includes every genre that I enjoy reading. Marjorie Liu's writing is fantastic and it transports you away to a different world. Here's an excerpt from the first story "Sympathy For the Bones,":a chilling, Gothic horror tale about dolls: "Persimmons had fallen overnight and the deer had not got to them. Quick business, but careful; those thin orange skins split open at the hint of a tense finger, and I ruined more than I cared to admit. Popped them in my mouth to hide the evidence. Spit out the seeds into my palm, and tucked them into the satchel where I kept the needle and thread. The rest, what was perfect and frostbit, I carried in the can for old Ruth." And here's an excerpt from my favorite story in the collection, "Call Her Savage," when Chinese sea captain Shao meets Xing, a leader of a band of riders.in a magical alternate-reality set during the Opium Wars between Britain and China: "There were gods in the sea, but Xīng had never prayed to them, nor to any holy spirit since she had buried the tin star. Yet she found herself on the cusp of prayer as she plummeted fifty feet to the dark Pacific, a leather harness buckled around her torso and shoulders, dangling like some gristly worm at the end of a long hook." It's worth getting the entire book for the final novella, The Tangleroot Palace, alone. It's about a princess engaged to a fierce Warlord who somehow ends up in the middle of the mysterious woods called the Tangleroot. It has romance, action, fantasy, and a great villain. It reminded me of the From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer Armentrout and Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan. Overall, The Tangleroot Palace is an amazing collection of short stories by a trail-blazing fantasy author. It includes stories from all genres. A recurring motif in this book is that of powerful heroines fighting their circumstances, whether they're lost in the fairy-woods or in the middle of the cantankerous sea. If you're intrigued by any of the descriptions of the stories, or if you're a fan of the fantasy genre, I highly recommend that you check out this book when comes out in June!
A fairytale anthology collection with various retellings and more. Absolutely mesmerizing storytelling. Seven different stories, all filled with magic, adventure, and even a little bit of romance. I would have to say my favorite stories were The Briar and the Rose ( a sleeping beauty retelling) and The Last Dignity of Man ( another take on Lex Luther x Superman). It was an unexpected collection but each story was such a great read, on top of that at the end of each story is a note about why the author wrote it and some other notes, and it just adds such a lovely touch. I would highly recommend this read for anyone interested in fairytales, folklore, or just looking for a great short story! *Thanks Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
"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 collection of dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction, you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women. 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." If you have no idea who Marjorie Liu is I'm no longer talking to you until you've read this book and ALL of Monstress to date.
"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." I received an e-ARC copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Tangleroot Palace will be available on June 15th, 2021. 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. This short story collection held a wide range of genres, ranging from fantasy, horror, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic times, but all the 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. 1. "Sympathy of Bones" - a story about witches, dark magic, and a lot of voodoo! (3.5 stars) 2. "Briar and Rose" - a very twisted Sleeping Beauty retelling, and possibly my most favorite story! (5 stars) 3. "Call Her Savage" - an alternate history story wherein China and Britain are at war with each other, and genetic manipulation comes into play. (3.5 stars) 4. 'The Last Dignity of Man" - an anti-hero (villian-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. (4 stars) 5. "Where the Heart Lives" - a story of a young woman finding herself working for a strange family in an equally strange yet magical forest but full of unknown creatures. (3 stars) 6. "After the Blood" - a post-apocalyptic story featuring a deadly virus pandemic and Amish vampires! (4 stars) 7. "Tangleroot Palace" - 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 I really wish this has a more extended story! (5 stars) Over-all, 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!
A highly intriguing and gorgeously rendered collection of short fiction, all themed around concepts of owning oneself and claiming one's place in the world, particularly as a woman.
Atmospheric, inventive, and very creepy, these short stories are great for anyone who enjoys fairy tales, but even more so, enjoys deconstructions of fairy tales. While the specific settings and stories are all unique, there is a clear writing style and in most, a strong and well-developed heroine. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this set of stories!
I've never read anything by Marjorie Liu before but now I'm kind of a fan of her writing. This short story collection, featuring a novella that's the titular story of this book, was stellar. Simply stunning. All of them in their own way. The writing was often lyrically crafted, with poetic prose that'll take your breath away. The characters are memorable and each story become more page-turner than the next. My top three favorites were SYMPATHY FOR BONES, THE BRIAR AND THE ROSE, and WHERE THE HEART LIVES. Would heartily recommend this collection. Thank you, NetGalley and Tachyon Publication, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is a solid collection of short stories that range from post-apocalyptic urban fantasy, dark fairy tales, and near-future science fiction. As a fan of Monstress, I knew I had to pick this collection up, and wow I am so glad I did. Each story feels unique and gripping, and I quickly was immersed in each different setting. Definitely recommended if you enjoy short story collections, the eldritch artistry of Monstress, or you're in the mood for some darker SFF stories.
Marjorie Liu is one of my favorites. Her characters and worlds are beautiful and dark, sensual and mysterious. This is nothing short of gorgeous.
I requested this ARC from Netgalley because I am such a huge fan of Marjorie Liu's Monstress series and I had never picked up any of her prose writing before. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it was exactly what I was looking for from this little collection of stories. Even though I definitely preferred certain stories to others, I think there was only one of these stories that I wasn't super enamored with. Which is saying something! But I loved the overall voice and style of this collection and I really fell in love with the author's writing style. Monstress is such a wonderful series, but I'll admit part of why I love it so much is the illustrations...this collection proved to me that Marjorie's writing is strong enough to stand on its own. She has such a way with prose and I loved how she built these worlds in such a short amount of words. As someone who's trying to write their own novel, I found a whole new appreciation for that sort of thing. This collection was queer and magical and strange, and I found myself wishing more of these stories were full books! It was really cool hearing the short commentary after each story to know where the author's head was when she was writing these. I think a lot of people underestimate the power of a good short story, and this will definitely stand as one of my favorite collections.
4.5 stars rounded up The Tangleroot Palace was just as good as I hoped it would be. It is a lush, darkly magical collection of short fiction from the creator of Monstress, including the titular Tangleroot Palace as a full-length novella. I loved all of them and was completely swept away. It was also cool because Liu includes brief notes at the end of each tale discussing what it was originally written for and when, which I found to be fascinating. Sympathy for the Bones features a young woman forced to learn dark magic from the woman who took her in decides she has had enough and will use that dark magic to her own advantage. In The Briar and the Rose we get a sapphic reimagining of Sleeping Beauty that draws on the fact that the original story involved sexual assault while the young woman was sleeping. In this version, it becomes a story of possession where a witch has taken over the body of a beautiful young woman and the only person who notices is a female bodyguard. Call Her Savage is like steampunk meets monstrous bioengineering in East Asia. The Last Dignity of Man is about a wealthy, young, gay biotech genius who fantasizes about being Lex Luthor while carrying out disturbing projects on behalf of the government. It's an interesting reimagining that carries a surprising amount of emotional weight. Where the Heart Lives is the first of three stories about dark secrets living deep in the woods. This one is about a young woman forced to leave home and live with a woman everyone thinks is a witch in the middle of a haunted forest. After the Blood is a post-apocalyptic survival story with vampires and zombies where Amish people now hold power because they know how to survive without modernity. Lastly, The Tangleroot Palace is about a down to earth princess resisting an arranged marriage by running away to the dark and dangerous woods in search of help. I very much enjoyed all of the stories and would recommend checking out the collection if it sounds up your alley. They often feature queer characters, or characters of color, or women who are not satisfied with the lives they are supposed to live. They are stories about love, death, grief, violence, and identity. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
I have a bit of a confession to make. I’m most familiar with Marjorie Liu from her wonderful work on the Monstress comics where she collaborates with illustrator Sana Takeda. Since Takeda worked on the cover for this one as well, I had presumed that The Tangleroot Palace was going to be a comic anthology. But, nope. To my pleasant surprise, this is in prose , and Liu’s prose writing does not disappoint. She’s a wordsmith who knows how to craft a gripping, visceral, biting tale. Here in this collection, you’ll find stories about loneliness, magic, and dangerous women. Overall, it’s a haunting and enchanting anthology, but some of the stories that stayed with me the most were: “Sympathy for the Bones,” “Where the Heart Lives,” and of course, “The Tangleroot Palace” itself.
There are six short stories and one novella in The Tangleroot Palace and each one varies in theme and genre but a fairytale element runs through the entire anthology. It isn’t your typical fairytale though, it’s alternative and unique and if you’re at all familiar with Marjorie Liu’s work you’ll understand what I mean by that. If you’re not then you’re in for a treat because no one spins a tale quite like Liu. At the end of each story, Liu discusses the origins and inspiration for each story, naming the anthology that each one originally appeared in and the premise she was given for each one. I really enjoyed these notes from her, the author, because it was so interesting to see what she had done with an idea and where she had pieced it together with something else she had seen/read/heard about. The Tangleroot Palace was, as I expected, brilliant. Each story was unique, wonderful and magical, weaving fantasy and reality together to create stories that although set in fantastical worlds with monsters and fairytales at their core have something we all recognise; people. Even in the darkness of ‘Sympathy for the Bones’ we can recognise parts of ourselves, and that is what makes Liu’s writing so compelling.
An outstanding collection of short stories, this book features lovely writing, engaging characters, fully realized worlds, and complicated plots. Whichever genre - fantasy, horror, science fiction, fairy tale - Liu chooses, she turns the standard genre tropes on their heads, taking the reader in unexpected directions. She is a master of tone and setting. Her characters, mostly women, are emotionally complex people dealing with extreme conditions of peril. Highly recommended.
With captivating lyrical prose Marjorie Liu has written a short story collection that will enchant readers from start to finish. From the creator of Monstress, The Tangleroot Palace: Stories is a collection of six fantastical short stories and one novella. This lushly written collection runs the gamut from a fairy tale-esque princess on a quest to a post-apocalyptic horror story. Each story is a glimpse into an enthralling new world. Whether a fan of steampunk, high fantasy, horror, or fairy tale retellings, there’s something in the collection for every type of genre reader. Even in such a marvelous collection there’s always a stand out and for me that was The Briar and the Rose. A Sapphic reimagining of Sleeping Beauty that takes on the dark elements of rape and loss of bodily autonomy that often get ignored in new versions and retellings of the original story. In Liu’s deft hands the tale becomes one of a woman possessed by a witch who regains control of her own body every Sunday and the woman’s bodyguard who is the only one who notices. Fans of genre fiction and short stories should pick this one up. Liu’s talent with world building alone makes this collection a must read.
I'm such a fan of Marjorie Liu (author of Monstress) that when I saw this book on NetGalley I didn't even read the synopsis before requesting it and I would do it again. Instead of being another graphic novel like I was expecting, it ended up being a collection of short stories written throughout the years, alongside a short comment by the author, giving the story a bit of context both to when it was written and to how it had aged. Sympathy for the Bones In this story perfect for your dark cottagecore loving heart, a girl raised by a witch slowly learns her mother's trade. This is a very disturbing story touching on themes such as abusive families, death and grief but it is more importantly a story about a young woman taking control of her situation and building the life she wants. It reminded me a bit of Spinning Silver and For the Wolf tone-wise in how it refused to make apologies for bad people and harmful beliefs and didn't force girls to make themselves smaller and wait to be saved. Briar and Rose This sapphic retelling of The Sleeping Beauty might have been my absolute favourite out of all of them. Albeit one of the simpler and shortest tales, the characters in it felt as real and complex as if I had spent an entire novel with them. In fact, I wish I could have. The ending was beautiful and all I could have wanted and I would love to see this adapted in any form from a graphic novel to an animation. Call her savage I would read an entire series in this universe and then binge-watch the movies. Think Star Wars meet The Man in the High Castle meets The Mortal Engines. This was one of the most complex and longer stories, following a war hero going on one last suicide mission to kill her former lover. It touches on themes such as colonialism, race, war, revenge and jealousy as two people that could have had a love story in a better world meet to kill each other after years apart. When the ending came, I was not ready for it. The last dignity of man This felt like an Ao3 fever dream and I loved every moment it hurt me. In this story, a lonely young billionaire is obsessed with Superman so he models himself after Lex Luthor. After striking up a conversation with a homeless man, he gives him a job in his company and slowly falls in love with him, looking forward to any interactions or attention from his crush. This was a story about loneliness and pain and I spent the entire time rooting if not for these two characters to be together then for them to find some peace and love through their friendship. I finished it knowing only one thing: I need more. Where the heart lives This was the first story set in the Dirk & Steele universe but you don't need to have read it beforehand as this is a prelude to those. This felt like a dark academia setting: we have the huge gothic mansion, the found family, and magic that is never explained (although that might be because I haven't read Dirk & Steele). We also have women standing up for themselves in a sexist world, mention of abusive families and a slow burn romance. After the blood The second tale in the Dirk & Steele universe is set in the future, in a post-pandemic world where all technology failed and magic and vampires exist. Our heroine lives close to an Amish town and deals with both the good and the bad of their culture. Once again, I didn't understand the magic system and world enough for this story to become one of my favourites but I loved the themes it dealt with from discrimination to community and most importantly it was a tale about different kinds of love and I adored how romantic love was not seen as the best or more important just one type. Something else I truly loved was our heroine and how the other characters interacted with her. She was always the person with the gun, the defender, the physical threat against those that would hurt her and those she held dear and I really liked seeing a woman portrayed in such a way. The Tangleroot Palace A princess rejects the responsibility others put on her to marry a monstrous man and decides instead to run away to a magical forest to find a solution to her kingdom's problems or at the very least to avoid them. This reminded me a lot of A court of Thornes and Roses series, particularly when it came to flawed, human parents, the importance placed on friendship and the stories we tell about ourselves to the world in order to protect what we love. Once again I didn't really connect with the magic system but I liked the feminist spin on marriage and the heroine's quick wit. Conclusions I had never read anything from Marjorie Liu before apart from her Monstress series so I went into this book with high expectations but afraid I would be disappointed. What I found were seven wonderful short stories, six of them headed by heroines, most of them following queer characters. No matter where or when, what these stories also had in common were that they were about love: unrequited, vengeful, romantic, familial or between friends and community and how that makes a difference in the world. Thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this DRC.
I wasn't aware of Marjorie Liu's work until I came across Monstress, which has quickly become one of my favorite comic series. Once I saw her name attached to this collection—and saw the absolutely stunning cover by her Monstress collaborator Sana Takeda—I knew I had to read it. And I'm not surprised that her short stories are as good as her comics (for which she has won multiple awards). A mix of fairy tales, steampunk adventure, and a lone contemporary riff on a famous comic book character, the stories in Tangleroot Palace can be quite different in form but all share a common thread of strong-willed, outsider characters who push against the forces holding them back, both internal and external. All have been previously published in various anthologies and online but this collection brings them together in a way that makes them sing in a special kind of harmony together that I think really makes this stand out as a short fiction collection. (One story felt very familiar and it turns out I had, in fact, encountered Liu's work before and not realized it. "The Briar and the Rose" was one of my favorite fairy tale retellings from the Starlit Wood anthology.)
Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with short story collections? Like, I always think to myself, "They're short! I'll breeze through it!" Then, I start them and if they're good...well, I forget about wanting to let each story sink in. Basically, it always takes longer than I expect and I do it to myself. Anyway...to the stories! Sympathy for the Bones -Similar premise to "Malice" as far as dark magic goes...I loved the language-the dialect. Some of it was difficult to understand, but you could still follow the emotions. Awesome/gruesome magic system. Well-ended. ☆☆☆☆ The Briar and the Rose -A sapphic twist on Sleeping Beauty that was SO original (and I've read at least two other sapphic retellings...). I loved how the sleeping curse was applied and how intertwined all of the characters were. Beautiful. ☆☆☆☆☆ Call Her Savage -An alternate-history in which California was settled earlier than the east coast in America. Dirigibles and war and rumors and legend. Probably my least favorite story...still pretty compelling and easy to follow. ☆☆☆ The Last Dignity of Man -A complex look into the psyche of someone who wants to be a villain, but actually has a heart. With sci-fi government experiments as the backdrop, I was actually fascinated by this premise! ☆☆☆☆☆ Where the Heart Lives -All I could think while reading this one was "Oh my gosh, I wish could read more of this world!!" Found family, the start of something good...At the end, I found out it was a prequel story to her urban fantasy series...and I'm so excited to dive into it!! ☆☆☆☆☆ After the Blood -Post apocalyptic, never really got introduced to the world, just kind of stumbling through it, surviving. Zombies...vampires? Magic? Creepy. Felt like the beginning of something more...very dire. ☆☆☆ Tangleroot Palace -I'm so glad this one was last. I figured the "twist" out, but it was still an absolute joy to read. All about lineage, found family, responsibility, self-fulfillment. I mean, I closed the book with a smile. What a lovely little fairy tale. ☆☆☆☆☆
I forget how much I enjoy well-written short story collections until I come across one such as this. These stories are so varied, I’m just including the publisher’s summary instead of my own. “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.” I loved this collection. There are so many types of characters, super solid queer representation, amazing worldbuilding for such short works, and each story has a unique POV and soul. After each story, Liu includes a little blurb with context about writing assignments, themes, and where she was at/what was going through her head while writing these stories, and that made the experience all the more richer. Many of these are slight retellings, but still completely original, and that made my heart so happy. It’s out now, and I even picked up a copy from my local library, so I could physically turn the pages, because apparently that’s the kick I’m on lately. If you need some solid fantasy storytelling in your life, definitely check this one out.
I received this and as an eARC to read for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for giving me access. I loved Monstress so when I saw Liu wrote a collection of stories, I knew I needed to read it. With each story I was immediately drawn in and could honestly use whole novels on each. I just want to dive into all the worlds she creates. With there being seven stories, there is sure to be one that will appease any reader. I highly recommend.
I have wanted to read more by Marjorie Liu since I enjoyed Monstress so much, thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of The Tangleroot Palace! I have a mixed experience with short story collections, since there can be such high highs and such low lows, but this was one of the best compilations I've read in a while! I would love to explore these worlds and stories more in their own novels, as some of the stories felt like they needed more time and expansion. "The Briar and the Rose" and "The Tangleroot Palace" were probably my favorites in the anthology. I appreciated the queer rep and the focus on women in many of these stories, and would recommend this collection to any fans of fantasy and speculative fiction.
I picked this up not for her multiple award-winning Monstress, which I haven’t read yet, but for Dirk & Steele and Hunter’s Kiss, her marvelous urban fantasy/paranormal series that I read when they came out back in the late 2000s. I loved both of those series, but I’m kind of astonished that they came out way more than a decade ago. But it has been a while, so I was happy to see this collection as a way of renewing my acquaintance with an author I very much loved. And I’m glad I did. There’s even a prequel for Dirk & Steele in this collection, at least if you squint a bit. My favorite stories in this collection were The Briar and the Rose, Call Her Savage and the title story, The Tangleroot Palace. The Briar and the Rose takes the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, adds in a bit of magical possession and body-swapping, and wraps it in a bodyguard romance. Except that this takes place in a world of myth and legend, where an evil sorceress is maintaining her youth and beauty by possessing pretty young women and discarding their corpses. That sorceress is defeated by the love that develops between her female bodyguard and the true personality of the body being possessed in stolen moments when the sorceress sleeps. And it’s a powerful story about just how strong people can be when they have something, or someone to fight beside and to fight for. Call Her Savage was fascinating because it hints at so much world and such a rich history that we don’t get to see in this story. There’s alternate history and revolution and wars and flawed heroines and politics and lost causes and fighting the long defeat. It reminds me a bit of Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune, but with an alternate 19th or 20th century instead of alternate early history. This is the one I wish there were more of. A lot more. The Tangleroot Palace was lush and lovely and kind of perfect. On its surface its about a princess who runs away from home to find magic in order to save herself and hopefully save her kingdom from subservience to a brutal warlord. And underneath that it’s a romance about hiding behind masks to protect one’s true self, about the power of illusion and the power of agency. And of course nothing about the warlord or the kingdom or the subservience turns out to be quite what the princess was expecting. But the magic at the heart of the forest is all too real, even if, or especially because, it too is based on an illusion. Of the rest of the collection, Sympathy for the Bones, Where the Heart Lives and The Last Dignity of Man were interesting and I’m glad I read them but they weren’t quite up there with my faves. After the Blood played with a supernatural/paranormal take on a post-apocalyptic story but didn’t give enough details to really hang together. Not that some characters weren’t hung or otherwise eliminated, but this one felt like it had been done before, and better, elsewhere. Still and all, I’d have read this for those three favorite stories, and I’m glad I stuck around for the whole thing. It was just the right amount of lovely and romantic and creepy to while awhile a rainy evening with a cat on my lap. Escape Rating A-: This is a strong collection, filled with stories that grip the heart, ramp up the adrenaline and occasionally wring the tear ducts. They’re not new stories, but they were all new to me, and I got completely wrapped up in every single one. They have the feel of feminist fairy tales, in that all but one of the stories are led by women, and are from mostly female perspectives. So these are heroine’s journeys – and occasionally villainess’ journeys, rather than told from the point of view that such stories are usually told. Although the one story that is told from a male perspective, The Last Dignity of Man, while it was not among my favorites was one of the most purely lonely stories I have ever read. It was so sad and so heartbreaking and had so much possibility but the monsters, and there certainly were monsters, were more disgusting than scary, not that they weren’t scary too. Still, the idea of someone emulating a supervillain in the hopes that a superhero would arise to thwart them, just like in the comic books, was a great idea that I’d love to see explored more fully with less puking. Seriously. The Tangleroot Palace reminded me just why I loved this author so much, and has made me resolve to get stuck into Monstress at the earliest opportunity!
This was a good variety of short stories - witches, Amish vampires, wannabe evil scientists, lots of badass women - and yet they all tied nicely together as well. I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others, but I found each of them interesting in their own way. I’ve never read any of Liu’s other work but I am planning on it now. Her mind is weird and magical place for stories to be created.
What a wonderful collection of stories. Usually in any collection, whether solo-authored or with multiple authors there will be some stories that you love, and others that don’t hit home, that was not the case here. I loved every story in this collection, and I love how Liu is able to capture the magic and make each story immersive, capturing your attention and emotions even between different focuses and settings. The titular story was undoubtedly my favourite, I just love the idea of sentinent forests and this story was just so atmospheric and deep that it pulled you in, and just a highlight of the collection. Other favourites included The Briar and the Rose and the Last Dignity of Man, but honestly there was nothing about this collection that I didn’t love, and I certainly can’t end this review without mentioning that stunning cover – again very atmospheric, and just absolutely beautiful.
I cannot gush about Marjorie Liu's short story collection enough! The brother's Grimm only wish they could have written stories this gorgeous, unique, and haunting. I've never made my love of fairy tales a secret and Ms. Liu blew my mind! These tales are short but the reader is pulled in so fast that when you reach the end, all you want it more. There was not one story I didn't like, some were stronger than others, but that's me looking for something to critique. I will be enjoying this collection over and over again! **Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.