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Tender Morsels

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  5,564 ratings  ·  1,311 reviews
Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild ...more
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published October 14th 2007)
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Kim I just finished this last night. I was completely embedded in the characters and story. It is very dark and should not be recommended for young adults…moreI just finished this last night. I was completely embedded in the characters and story. It is very dark and should not be recommended for young adults. It is amazingly written but extremely tragic in its subject manner and I would not want my 17 year old daughter reading it but maybe I relate to Liga too much and wish to shelter my daughter much like Liga does from the evils of this true world. I absolutely recommend you read this and let me know how you felt about the finale. (less)

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Average rating 3.57  · 
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Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
this is a book that concerns itself with damage and healing. and i think it is a very powerful book filled with Important Lessons. my only problem with it is that there are too many voices, too many characters, which i think makes for a strained and disjointed read. there were so many voices, it became hard to care about any one of them individually.this is not always a problem for me in fiction- i love sprawling narratives, but in this book, i think the real strength of perspective was found in ...more
Emily May
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Though I thought Tender Morsels was a fantastically-written and unbelievably well-imagined story, my first instinct is to throw my hands up in warning at any teenager (or - in fact - any adult) who might come strolling along in search of just another typical fairytale retelling. Because that's what this is in it's barest form, it is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm's tale of Rose Red & Snow White: A Grimms Fairy Tale. And don't we all just love the call of the "dark" retellings? We imagine
mark monday
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Snow White and Rose Red live with their mother in a cottage. upon them comes a bear, out of the cold, into their warmth and into their lives. he stays with them a bit; they become a sort of family, until he must go away. the girls meet a strange and irritable dwarf and save him several times. he is not grateful. later, the girls come between the dwarf and the now enraged bear. the unpleasant dwarf begs the bear to eat the girls rather than his little self. can the girls' sweet spirits get them o ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retelling
I was in the mood for a fairy tale retelling for a fun and easy read, and I was saving "Tender Morsels" for exactly that moment. So I settled myself on the couch, sipped some tea, started reading the book, and spit out a mouthful of tea. Boy was I wrong! From the first paragraph, you are transported to a dark place that hums with cruelty and perversion. This is not an easy and fun book to read. The early chapters are filled with acts of sexual violence that feel more terrifying for being present ...more
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those whose sensibilities are not easily offended
Recommended to Tatiana by: ALA
Evidently, Tender Morsels is a modern retelling of Brothers Grimm's fairy tale Rose Red and Snow White: A Grimms Fairy Tale. If I have to look for an analogy among better known fairy tale retellings, Tender Morsels is closer in its audacity to Anne Rice's version of Sleeping Beauty - The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty than to Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. Is Tender Morsels a remarkable work of literature? Yes. Does it cross the boundaries of what is YA appropriate? Yes, again.

Liga has had an awfu
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Monica
Shelves: starred
Once upon a time, the skeleton of this story was called Snow-White and Rose-Red. Like all fairy tales, it left much unexplained. Too much. Well, Margo Lanagan took those bones and added muscle and guts, bracing the loose joints of the plot with her characters' emotions, motivations, and histories. That's the secret of successful retellings: fleshing out the gaps that relied almost entirely on the readers' willful ignorance or suspension of belief, yet still leaving room for the existence of magi ...more
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Tender Morsels has me stumped. On the one hand, it is a lushly written novel about horrible things, and I can only marvel at Ms. Lanagan’s storytelling skills and her ability to craft such a beautifully cruel fable. On the other, I have to admit that while this book was powerful and well done, I didn’t like it. It’s with these contradictory emotions that I set out and attempt to write this review, so please, bear with me (bad pun, apologies).

This provocative young adult novel is
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: Sean
Tender Morsels is a modern retelling of Grimms’ Snow White and Rose Red. Liga had a painful past and was magicked away to another world where she was safe and could raise her two daughters free of violence and the small-mindedness of the villagers in the town she once inhabited. Once the security of their safe world was breached, Liga and her daughters had to learn to adapt to living in the real world.

Beautifully written, rich, disturbing, compelling, yet hopeful, with vividly drawn characters
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to think about the rating and review for novel. It has me flummoxed in a way I haven’t been over a book before.

While I was trawling Melbourne bookstores for a copy (which was a saga in itself) I had a discussion with a bookseller about Tender Morsels. In passing, I mentioned the brouhaha it had been caught up in a while ago, (along with several other novels), over its inclusion a feminist YA reading list. The subsequent fallout and discussion made for interesting reading, specifically wh
Kat Kennedy
May 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
I actually had no expectations of this book. I suppose, since I already knew about a few of the more disturbing things about this book, that I was already prepared to face it.

What I wasn't prepared for was how utterly bored I'd be. It was quite infuriating really. There were many characters I severely disliked and the plot was very awkward.

I made it about half way through the book before I threw my hands up in disgust and gave up. It just didn't seem to be going anywhere!

So I really can't give
Gloria Mundi

I have to admit that the thing that first attracted me to this book was the wonderful cover art. However, for once, it appears that I was right to judge a book by its cover. Tender Morsels is a retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red story and, as fairytales go, it is decidedly of the Brothers Grimm variety, dark, vivid and brutal, so do not expect it to be full of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.

When we meet the main character, Liga, she is 13 years old, living with her father in a lonely hut
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-shelf
For anyone who has read this book, the beginning is the absolute worst.

Not that it is badly written or boring. Hell no. It's all the incest, forced abortion, rape, and attempted suicide.

By the way, this is a YA. My inner critic was cursing and carrying on and wondering how the hell I could get through this freaking grimdark nightmare.

And then it lightened up. Got magical. Got heavenly. Sometimes it even got humorous. And then it became a retelling of Snow White. With the magicked prince that is
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Wow. That was harsh. No, worse than harsh, that was brutal. I am wretched, shattered, ausgespielt even. Have to give credit to the Germans for such an onomatopoeic word for how this feels. Yay, Germans.

It’s 4:30 am, I’m on my 5th cup of coffee and trying to counteract the caffeine shakes with graham crackers, my eyes are bleary, words blurring, my jaw is clenched, throat sore and there’s a hollow space above my rib cage, I think that’s my soul.

Wow. I did not think that this was going to be like

3.5 stars

After I read Margo Lanagan’s “Black Juice,” I thought that Margo Lanagan’s “Tender Morsels” was going to be a horrible read. However, I was quite impressed with how improved the plot and characters are in this book are from “Black Juice.” “Tender Morsels” is a Printz Honor Book by Margo Lanagan and it is about how a suffering woman named Liga is mysteriously sent to a world where everything is perfect and friendly and raises her two daughters, Branza and Urdda, in this heaven. Howev
Jan 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
This has gotten fantastic reviews, but I think it's horribly overwritten. In addition, the only people reading this, as far as I can tell, are librarians. I've talked three teens into checking it out, and the farthest any of them made was halfway through.
Dec 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
So far, it is horrible. By page 50, the main character has been raped multiple times by at least six different men, one being her father. She has been pregnant two different times, both her father's children.

After I wrote this review, I tried to continue but just couldn't. I didn't finish the book - I stopped on page 83. If someone actually gets through it and likes it, let me know!
Mar 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Tender Morsels is a hard book to review. I wanted to like it sooo much! After all, I like the writing, the world Margo Lanagan created, the magic and even the disquieting nature of the story. I've always had a fascination with the older, more violent and more disturbing versions of Grimms fairytales, so this book seemed to be right up my alley. Unfortunately, it had too many issues for me to over look.

What comes to mind, first and foremost is the fact that this book is geared towards young adul
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
what an interesting book. i imagine 50 or 100 years from now, if liberal arts education is not laughed off university campuses, students of English lit might actually be studying this one.

it's that layered, yep.

about halfway through i realized i was reading something i have run across so rarely: a book where men don't actually matter much. i've read a zillion books where women were just plot devices, getting things kicked off or causing a plot twist. in these cases the men of the story were indi
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
At first, Tender Morsels drew me in, but the middle kind of lost me (it seemed a little tedious to me).

Lately, I've been hearing "If you don't like a book, put it down. There are too many other good books out there you could be reading."

But I'm not very good at that. If I see the tiniest bit of merit in a book, I'll keep plugging away. And I saw that in this book. The end did actually pull me back in, but mainly because it did a good job of tying up all the loose ends and revealing what happened
Kate Forsyth
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is a truly extraordinary book, and one that lingers in the mind for a long time afterwards. The language is astonishingly good – bold, original, unexpected – and the story itself takes all kinds of surprising directions. I really think it’s going to be one of the best books of the year (OK, OK, I know it was published in 2008, but sometimes it takes me a while to get to a book!) It’s only occasionally that I finish a book with a real sense of awe, but this book delivered me that. If you hav ...more
Aug 02, 2009 added it
5 stars for language -- Margo Lanagan can WRITE. I was constantly impressed by the beauty and uniqueness of the prose, while not being sucked out of the story by it. But while I found the story intriguing, poignant, and imaginative, I never had that breathless "what happens next?" feeling or felt truly, deeply invested in the outcome or the characters. Still, it's a lovely book.
R. C.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sexual abuse survivors
I want to recommend this book to survivors, but I must clarify lest they pick it up thinking my recommendation means it is safe to read. Do not read this without a support system in place, if you have even ever once had a flashback.

The book starts out with an accurate and well-described incest and rape situation involving a young teen and her widower father. It is realistic, not otherworldly, though set in the Middle Ages somewhere. He soon dies, but it's still a very realistic treatment of the
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy, 2011
Yes, the first 50 pages are exceptionally brutal. I was reading them on the subway during rush hour and my hands were shaking.

Yes, there are a lot of different voices—a third-person narrative interspersed with three (maybe four?) first-person accounts of strange occurrences that intrude upon the third-person sections. But I never really lost the thread of the story.

And yes, there are some scenes that dance on the edge of bestiality, when a female bear somehow becomes a convincingly appropriate
Jan 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
Cross-posted from my blog E.M.Reads.

After 200 pages of Tender Morsels I just can't continue. I mean I'm half way there and I just can't plow through. I'm searching for the plausible chain of events that binds the plot. I understand that this is fantasy and plausibility isn't exactly necessary, but I need to be able to tie together these events with some semblance of belief. After 200 pages I just feel disconnected from the story. I'm sure in the last 50 pages Ms. Lanagan will tie all of the
Jan 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
After enduring many unspeakable cruelties, Liga is granted a magical safe haven to live in and raise her two daughters. They live in this alternate reality free from anyone or anything cruel or unkind. Others begin to find ways of entering this magic haven and soon the barrier between the two worlds begins to break.
I heard so much praise about this book that I was very eager to read it. Unfortunately, this book turned out to be one that I did not enjoy at all and really probably should have stop
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, feminist, non-us
Paul Bowles once said that his wife Jane had difficulty writing because she couldn't do it the easy way like everyone else, but was forced to reinvent everything from scratch. In a way, Tender Morsels feels exactly like this kind of reinvention: nothing comes easily, or proceeds in the accepted and comfortable direction. Description, characterization, dialogue, point of view and narrative are fractured in interesting, inventive and often startling ways.

This is, of course, also a reinvention of a
Arielle Walker
This was just so... so dark.

I think this was a good thing. I think so.

Fairytales are meant to be dark and brutal and honest, in amongst the mystery and otherworldliness. I'm certainly not one for censorship, but I would hesitate before giving this to a younger reader. Partly because of that unrelenting darkness that underscores every chapter, every line, but also because I feel much of the story would be missed - or worse, considered "boring" through lack of relatability.

If I have any actual cri
Aug 31, 2008 added it
Shelves: unfinished
This book began with 50 straight pages of the adolescent protagonist being sexually abused, first by her father, and then, after his death, by men from her village. It was stomach-churning. While I understand that this sort of abuse went on quite commonly both today and in the past (I think this was supposed to be set in the Early Modern Period, but not sure exactly), I don't enjoy reading about it in my leisure time. Making people aware of the need to help abused children does not need to invol ...more
Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James
I'll have to DNF this one.
It's amazingly written story, and it's not surprising as Margo probably knows some magic for storytelling. The problem here is that this book is too shocking for me. I simply can't stomach some things. Nothing new mind you, but Liga's voice is innocent and childish one which makes this really hard to process.

I'll get back to it one day, maybe.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Oh, those first 50 pages! Spectacular. Not just because of the crazy-beautiful writing, and the dare-you-to-stay-with-me portrayal of a raw, ugly situation, but because I was really and truly convinced that I was inside Liga's head.

As the novel expanded to encompass more lives, I found myself less entranced. It wasn't the difficult but brilliant language choices; it wasn't the raunchy but highly original portrayal of bears; it wasn't the shifting multiple viewpoints. All of that, I admired and
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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 by Go

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“You are pure-hearted, Branza, and lovely, and you have never done a moment's wrong. But you are a living creature, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart. However sweet that other place was, it was not real. It was an artifact of your mam's imagination; it was a dream of hers and a desire; you could not have stayed there forever and called yourself alive. Now you are in the true world, and a great deal more is required of you. Here you must befriend real wolves, and lure real birds down from the sky. Here you must endure real people around you, and we are not uniformly kind; we are damaged and impulsive, each in our own way. It is harder. It is not safe. But it is what you were born to.” 41 likes
“There is something about talking in the night, with the shreds of sleep around your ears, with the silences between one remark and another, the town dark and dreaming beyond your own walls. It draws the truth out of you, straight from its little dark pool down there, where usually you guard it so careful, and wave your hands over it and hum and haw to protect people's feelings, to protect your own . . . You can bring out the jaggedest feelings - if you are my wife and know how to state them calm - into the night quiet. They will float there for consideration, harming no one.” 21 likes
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