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About the Author

Dame Marina Warner is a British novelist, short story writer, historian and mythographer. She is known for her many non-fiction books relating to feminism and myth. She has written for many publications over the years, including The London Review of Books, the New Statesman, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and Vogue.


Warner weaves a world of myths, mermaids and male monsters, but the best stories here explore less familiar themes.

-- Suzi Feay * The Guardian *

With their unique blend of ancient myth and contemporary concerns, Warner's stories are often dark, always gripping, with unexpected flashes of humour and clashes of the real and the supernatural. The legendary Melusine is transformed into an iPhone-wielding, sassy mermaid in a parable on desire and identity. When the relationship between a young dancer and her maverick patron takes a sinister turn, the girl escapes into an alternative world through the chinoiserie pattern on her curtains. Questions of gender and feminism, never far from the surface, are explored in a fresh manner. Warner's writing is at its strongest when it eschews abstraction in favour of the physical - descriptions of human bodies, shimmering underwater creatures, miniature charms with talismanic powers. These are darkly glittering fairytales for our times.

-- Juanita Coulson * The Lady *

Dame Marina Warner's non-fiction is deeply concerned with myths, legends and fairytales. In this collection of magical, haunting short stories, ordinary situations are infused with strangeness, and the nursery-rhyme title suggests a common theme of loss and longing. In Out of the Burning House, an elderly actor in a care home wonders what he would save from a burning house: "your house is on fire, you can't fly away home''. He's dwelling on his sexually confused teenage years, his passion for a TV star named Lesley Peake, and a first lesson in betrayal. Letter to an Unknown Soldier is a heartrending scrap of a story; a young girl is writing to her big brother away at war, when he hasn't replied to the last one. And in Ladybird, Ladybird, a young woman who is trying to get pregnant has a weird encounter with a dress in a charity shop. Delicate and graceful.

-- Kate Saunders * The Times *

Five stars. In this lovely collection of short stories full of wit and fantasy, Marina Warner show her ventriloquial gifts as a writer. Some read like fairy tales, others like literary short stories.

-- Brandon Robshaw * Independent on Sunday *

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