Book Review: Snow and Shadow, Dorothy Tse (2014)

Friday, June 13th, 2014

“This palace is a depraved place.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Dorothy Tse’s Snow and Shadow is like nothing you’ve ever read. Fantastical, surreal, and full of unexpected gore, the stories found within these pages are as odd as they are beautifully written. While some of the pieces start off with both feet seemingly planted firmly in this world (“in a vein of apparently innocent realism,” to quote translator Nicky Harman) before veering off into another, dreamlike dimension, others flaunt their peculiarities from the opening sentences. As if the unusual and absurd plots aren’t enough, Tse creates further distance by giving the stories’ protagonists impersonal names: some are just “the boy” or “the girl,” while others are named after objects (“Leaf” and “Knife”) or simply referred to by letters (“J,” “K,” and “Q” are especially popular choices). While some of the pieces are a little out there for my taste, there’s no denying that Tse is a gifted and masterful storyteller.

The collection is comprised of thirteen stories:

(More below the fold…)