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Red Spikes

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  639 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
“Lanagan solidifies her reputation as mistress of the strange.”—The Bulletin

Margo Lanagan's electrifying stories take place in worlds not quite our own, and yet each one illuminates what it is to be human. They are stories of yearning for more, and learning to live with what you have. Stories that show the imprint love leaves on us all.

If you think you don't like short fi
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 2006)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

After being blown away by Black Juice, I was eager to read more of Margo Lanagan’s short story collections. So off I went to the library and found a lovely hardcover edition of Red Spikes, received by the library on October 16, 2008. It appeared to be untouched and I confirmed this by looking at the shiny cover free of finger smudges and listening to the crackling noises of its spine as I gently opened it, fanning its pages under my nose and sniffing so deeply it was al
Apr 30, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: existing fans of Margo Lanagan, people not averse to weird
Recommended to Tatiana by: ala
Writing short stories is not easy. As much as I like, let's say, Kelley Armstrong, her anthologies Men of the Otherworld and Tales of the Otherworld are not really collections of short stories. They are collections of scenes in the lives of her characters and nothing more.

Lanagan, on the other hand, is a great short story writer. Her stories remind me a lot of the works of one of my favorite writers (and IMO the greatest writer of short stories) - Guy de Maupassant, not thematically, but in the
Arielle Walker
Story by story is the only way I can do this.

Baby Jane

A baby is being born somewhere in the Australian outback - but her midwife is unusual and her mother may not be from this world.

Eerie but lovely, the twist comes early on and the rest of the story is how the main character copes with that twist. This could be the prologue of a long, dark fantasy tale, but as a short story it's near perfect! Tantalising, makes you think long and hard after the last word has been read. 4.5/5

Monkey's Paternoster
Margo Lanagan is a master of darkness. Her vision is one of the most original and powerful in the Young Adult genre; it uses the whimsical, dark, and bizarre to explore real, human themes.

Lanagan paints her vision with artful language. Her scenes and images intrigue, unsettle, and even baffle the reader - each word is chosen carefully, so, as Kirkus Reviews said in their review, each sentence has the effect of a stone in a still pond.

These ten short stories are about love, life, belonging, pain
Previous to this book I’ve read The Brides of Rollrock Island (which I absolutely adored), Yellowcake (which was okay) and Tender Morsels (which was also okay). I got this book when I was in a big Lanagan reading phase a couple years ago. It was okay; the stories are all interesting but none of them really grabbed me and the majority of them are just plain odd.

I listed the stories below along with brief descriptions and thoughts on them. I think my favorites were Baby Jane, Hero Vale, Under Hel
Melissa Chung
10 short interesting stories. I liked 3 more than the others and would have liked them to be a bit longer.

The first short story 'Baby jane' was my favorite. It is about a boy who found a few figurines in the forest. His mother is a midwife. The boy found those figurines and stuck them in his pocket then under his pillow that night before he went to sleep. By midnight those figurines came to life. One of the figurines was a warrior Queen about to give birth. The boy's family was in a magical slee
I don't normally read short fiction, but my love for Margo Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island and my desire for something different encouraged me to pick up Red Spikes, a collection of ten short stories. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but feel cheated as I read the stories because as soon as I'd connect with the character, develop a guess as to where the plot was going, or lose myself in Lanagan's lurid and ambient settings, the story would end.

Lanagan's writing is beautiful and her ideas
Nesa Sivagnanam
Mar 05, 2012 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In "Baby Jane," a young boy whose mother is a midwife of the New Age hippyish persuasion, finds himself having to deliver a baby for a heroic fantasy warrior queen. The heavily pregnant queen has arrived in our world with her chief counsellor and a bear. They arrive in the boy's home via tiny figurines, but they become full-sized and very real in the night. The queen is believably dirty and ignorant of modern -- or New Age -- childbirth procedures. The bear has to be distracted with honey. Then ...more
Anne Hamilton
Dec 06, 2012 Anne Hamilton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best collection so far in my opinion. Black Juice had some dazzlingly good stories, marred by some racist overtones in the most compelling story inside its covers. White Time was almost brilliant but Red Spikes doesn't seem to put a foot wrong.

Unusual, strange, otherworldly.

It's hard to choose favourites but the opening story Baby Jane as well as Hero Vale and Daughter of the Clay probably get the nod.

Apart from saying the stories are uniformly excellent, it is too hard to say anything much
Interesting fluidity. For most of the book I was left with this weird sensation, and it wasn't until the fourth or fifth story that I could pinpoint what it was: most of the stories felt like they had been lifted away from longer novels. But instead of it being an unpleasant realization, it rather enhanced the stories for me, as though they were shimmering up from a lakebed, only to fall away again as the current took them. I would be interesting to see some of these stories expanded, but as the ...more
It was very hard to rate this book because there were a few stories I liked from it and others that just left me blink in confusion. There is a certain magic this author can create in her story, but the dark site of them just turns out to be creepy and confusing. Except for Hero Vale, that one had a very interesting view on the creepy factor.

Here are a few toughs for each story:

1.Baby Jane - just plain weird. After reading this I was very close to giving up on this book. It felt like I was seei
I really really wanted to like these short stories but I just couldn't get into it. I love Margo Lanagan's writing, I think it's absolutely beautiful, and the language in these stories is absolutely gorgeous. One of my favorite things about Margo Lanagan's writing has always been her ability to really set a mood in a story, and these stories evoke many different moods from the down right disturbing to a sense of satisfaction. Unfortunately all of the stories felt unfinished to me. They felt more ...more
Aug 23, 2013 Shradha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Red Spikes" is an anthology which contains ten short stories. Each examines a facet of humankind and fantasy alike, using different settings, situations, and characters.

This book was the first piece of Margo Lanagan's work I have seen. And I must admit I was blown away. Her style of writing is amazing, with dark and somber undertones present in each story that pulls the reader in and doesn't let them go until the end. The tales are all original and fresh ideas, yet all are complex and hold endl
Nov 17, 2013 Millenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It's almost impossible to describe what these stories did to me. I've tried writing this review four or five times, and... wow. Here goes nothing (and apologies for any incoherences):

1. When you begin reading, it's like walking down a dark hallway. You stumble around a bit, but you see this light at the end of the hallway, and you squint and keep on going, trying to reach it.

2. As you come closer, you begin to see something more - something dancing in the light. Intrigued, you keep on walking.

Dec 15, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Oh, you caint see straight in this place," said Razor. "And when you do see summink, afterwards you caint quite remember. You caint quite believe, you know? It will not stay proper in your head."

Okay, I have only read six of the ten stories in this book so far, but I can tell I am going to have to give it five stars already. Gorgeous amazing disturbing lovely tales; every one of them fills my head with exclamation points.

Also the best bird story in the world EVER EVER with the following descrip
This is definitely not for everyone. The pacing is slow, the stories convoluted and strange and the writing obscure at times but it is just so, so beautiful. Dammit, Lanagan can write. Anyone that can write from the perspective of a freaking monkey or a pet bird and still make it gorgeous and intriguing is definitely a truly fantastic author. Most readers will have the problem of feeling bored with the stories, but they are all gorgeously-written and wonderfully-crafted and have such significanc ...more
If you like fantastic, unreal, horrifying stories, you will certainly enjoy the ten short stories by Lanagan that do not disappoint. Themes of birth, death, and love are interspersed throughout with images of violence, gentleness and intensity. Wade in carefully and read each story separately, you will be rewarded with mystery and truth in
life and otherworlds. Supernatural Fiction
Aug 29, 2012 Thoraiya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting a bit slack with writing proper reviews because I'm writing...stories! But I will pause to note that my favourites from this collection are Monkey's Paternoster, Winkie, Hero Vale, Mouse Maker and Forever Upward.

Yes, that is half the book :)
Jun 18, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margo Lanagan has the most amazing use of language, whether her story is a horrifying tale of Wee Willie Winkie, an unforgettable an angelic budgie, or following along with souls in limbo. These are tales to be enjoyed slowly.
April-Jane Rowan
A stunning collection of stories that I didn’t want to end, full of vivid imagination and great prose.
Nov 15, 2009 Jenifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my gosh. These 10 short pieces of fiction are so greatly, awesomely imaginative. Perfect. More. More.
Jun 05, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book of the new year! I love her short stories- creepy and thought-provoking.
Very strange and difficult to rate. I almost gave up on this collection in the middle and only skimmed most of the rest. The first and especially the last stories were very good, but most of the stories in between were hit-or-miss and very, very strange. Most seemed like they were unfinished, as though they'd come from longer stories or even novels; I know some reader liked that about them, but I found it pretty jarring.
Jan 04, 2017 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the best short stories are ones that could be turned into bigger stories because the reader wants more, but that also don't leave you completely unsatisfied. Margo Lanagan's stories do both of those. They are so fantastical and strange and satisfying. I loved Tender Morsels by her, and was not disappointed by her short stories.

My favorites were:

Baby Jane, where a young boy delivers a baby for a toy warrior queen that comes to life,

Winkie, about a young child kidnapped by Wee Willie Wink
Sep 13, 2012 Kritika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy, anthology
Red spikes is my third Margo Lanagan anthology. Black Juice still remains my favorite, but this one was very thought-provoking and bizarre and beautiful in a twisted sort of way - the usual Margo Lanagan fare.

Baby Jane - ***
a boy finds tiny figurines of a pregnant queen in "maternity armor", a bear, and her retinue on a camping trip; the figurines come to life at night and he helps the queen give birth.
I didn't really understand the point of this one.

Monkey's Patternoster - **
A very bizarre stor
John Xero
Jul 17, 2013 John Xero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Black Juice (another collection by Margo Lanagan) several years ago, and although considering it one of the best short story collections I've ever read, I actually hadn't read anything else of hers until now.

Red Spikes is brilliant. I would say read Black Juice first, and then when you're left gasping for more, Red Spikes will be there waiting for you.

I'm going to have to avoid turning this whole review into a bit of a rant, so I'll try to briefly encapsulate my issue. Red Spikes is a sho
Rebecca Ann
Margo Lanagan's style just really does not work for me, particularly in short story format. When I read her Tender Morsels novel, I thought it was well written, if a bit indulgent in the pace, oddly dream-like and far too obscene for my tastes (bestiality and lots of rape). Her short stories are no different, although the fewer pages make the dreamlike quality even stronger, like a nightmare that is very difficult to understand. I spent most of every story just trying to figure out what was happ ...more
Sep 19, 2012 Rochelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I like a good short story collection, especially with it is paranormal or sci-fi or fantasy. I think this is the first one i have read by a single author. I am going to break this down story by story, because some i liked a lot more than others.

Baby Jane: This was my favourite. My type of fantasy story. It was mysterious and magical.

Monkey's Paternoster: I did not like this one. I found it too disturbing.

A Good Heart: This one was sad, with a good twist. I felt like i only got part of the story
This was weird, and not the good weird. Or wait, I rather phrase that as not the right kind of weird for me. Because I do enjoy weird and offbeat but here I hardly connected to the stories at all and the weirdness was alienating if anything. I wanted something more Kelly Link-ish, lesson learned, if I crave the original I shouldn't go for a substitute that has a quite different agenda.
Lanagan's writing is gorgeous and very unique which leaves me under the impression that if this is the right kin
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jan 18, 2013 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
Ten more deeply weird stories by the Australian writer who seems to be the current master of this sort of material. These books are published under young adult imprints. Admittedly it would have been some time ago, but I wonder what I would have made of them had I encountered them about the time I was marveling at Ray Bradbury.

I have read her collection Black Juice where all the stories take place in unique worlds that nevertheless seem placed in a medieval fantastic realm. These stores range ov
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Margo Lanagan, born in Waratah, New South Wales, is an Australian writer of short stories and young adult fiction.

Many of her books, including YA fiction, were only published in Australia. Recently, several of her books have attracted worldwide attention. Her short story collection Black Juice won two World Fantasy Awards. It was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and the United Kingdom b
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