Bite-sized books: The Fox’s Tower

Book Cover: The Fox's Tower and other talesBite-size books will be a regular weekly feature, as I have accumulated a healthy pile of them that I’m very excited about (plus several short story collections). This week: The Fox’s Tower and other tales is flash fiction that made my soul sing.

I was already excited about Yoon Ha Lee’s upcoming novel Ninefox Gambit because I’d heard things, dammit, and now that I’ve finally got round to reading an example of his previous work I’m practically beside myself.

The Fox’s Tower is the opening tale in this short but delectable collection of flash. The opening line of the introduction – To be honest, the foxes may have started as a joke – put me in the right frame of mind. Then the avalanche of imagery and concepts began, and I was delighted beyond measure.

Expect teasing tidbits that feel like timeless fables in the way that Gaiman’s work sometimes feels like a fairy tale even when it isn’t, expressed in poetic language and dreamy descriptions. I liked that gender was often withheld and sometimes as fluid as form, and that love was unconstrained by details. Almost every tale was over too soon (I think I’ve established that I always want more from short form fiction, right?) but gorgeous while it lasted, like a really good box of truffles.

Ghost-plagues, charms of trebuchet-warding, magpies that steal the edges from swords, a queen with eyes the colour of an extinguished sun, a dragon built by robots, a one-winged angel in a city at the gates of hell, tiger wives, and fox spirits all await. My favourites was probably the fox spirit who preferred science to seduction or possibly the book given a child on his or her tenth birthday that everyone can read but its owner.

…but there are no bad tales here. This was perfect for me in a week with a fractured brain, and may easily become a comfort read in tricky times, as each tale can be savoured in no more than 5 minutes. Wonderful.