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Yellowcake [Kindle Edition]

Margo Lanagan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $9.00 (53%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Yellowcake brings together ten short stories from the extraordinarily talented Margo Lanagan--each of them fiercely original and quietly heartbreaking.

The stories range from fantasy and fairy tale to horror and stark reality, and yet what pervades is the sense of humanity.  The people of Lanagan's worlds face trials, temptations, and degradations. They swoon and suffer and even kill for love. In a dangerous world, they seek the solace and strength that comes from family and belonging. 

These are stories to be savored slowly and pondered deeply because they cut to the very heart of who we are.

“Haunting, gorgeous, and sometimes painful, Lanagan’s stories are unlike anything else in fantasy literature.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Lanagan unravels familiar myths and fairy tales, weaving them into unique, sharply resonant forms in this characteristically stunning collection." --Kirkus, starred review

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Ten tales examine unexpected occurrences of magic in everyday lives. Most of the stories appeared in various anthologies published between 2006 and 2011, but they have not been available to American readers until now. Additionally, while this collection was released in Australia in 2011, one story ("Heads") has been swapped for another ("Catastrophic Disruption of the Head") in the U.S. release. Ranging in length from 10 to 34 pages, some of these literary fantasies are wholly original (a boy's mother prepares to ascend to a higher calling, circus oddities find someone else to stare at and speculate about, a shopping mall sheds its parasitic humans) and some are inspired by other tales (Passover and Exodus, Rapunzel, Charon and the River Styx). But in all of Lanagan's worlds, the familiar becomes unfamiliar and then wondrous. Each story is tightly crafted, dropping readers into a culture without much preface, letting the events spin out and the characters be forever changed, and leaving those turning the pages haunted afterward. Less-sophisticated readers might be frustrated by the density of these selections and their focus on character rather than plot, but for those willing to invest, the payoff is powerful. This is meaty fare, layered with meaning and thick with a richness of imagination. Yellowcake is as much about the telling as it is about the tales.-Gretchen Kolderup, New York Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Returning to the fertile format of Black Juice (2005), White Time (2006), and Red Spikes (2007), Lanagan’s latest collection is as lovely, enigmatic, and eye-opening as you’d expect, with each story dropping readers into deep waters from which they must paddle and orient themselves. The astonishing standout, “An Honest Day’s Work,” tells of a hobbled boy allowed to join men in “a meat job”—the skinning, sawing, and carving up of a giant humanoid lugged in from the sea. Reminiscent of something out of China Miéville’s Railsea (2012), it is gruesome and heart pounding and begs for novel expansion. (Well, we can hope, right?) Elsewhere is the Bradburian tale of a too-powerful kid psychic, the grim story of a vindictive “fascinator,” and a sorrowful look at the daughter of a Styx ferryman. Rhythms are highly unusual; often the tricksy prose feels as if it’s been translated into an alien tongue and back again, and, yes, some will balk at the heavy lifting required to make sense of some of it. For those who love paying close attention, of course, this pays off handsomely. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lanagan’s literary chops are nearly unrivaled in YA lit, and any release from her will draw excitement, scrutiny, and awards consideration. Grades 9-12, --Daniel Kraus

Product Details

  • File Size: 1263 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B004R1RBKK
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9ET4TU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,019,472 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's Magic In The Everyday World May 7, 2013
By Leah
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really like Margo Lanagan. She uses words to create extraordinary things. While some of her work deals with shocking topics (as in her novel Tender Morsels (Hardcover), and her story "A Thousand Flowers" found in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology) or things which may seem beyond comprehension, like in her previous story collections, she manages to create so much with her language.

YELLOWCAKE is a little "tamer"--and I'm using the term loosely--compared to her other collections, but still packs her trademark worldbuilding. Some were good, some were just okay, and a few were really fantastic.

THE POINT OF ROSES: (3 out of 5 stars)
This is about a boy who brings out the magic in every day objects. Interesting idea, but it didn't tie up the ends.

THE GOLDEN SHROUD: (4 out of 5 stars)
A retelling of Rapunzel from her romantic interest's point of view. It has the fairy tale feel.

A FINE MAGIC: (4 out of 5 stars)
A revenge tale unlike any other I've read, about two sisters who earn the anger of a magician.

AN HONEST DAY'S WORK: (3.5 out of 5 stars)
This story is full of images which are both imaginative and cringe-worthy; a tale of workers who are digging. And it's not for gold.

INTO THE CLOUDS ON HIGH: (4.5 out of 5 stars)
This story brought tears to my eyes. It's about a boy who's mother is leaving. It's a sweet story of familial love with a fantastical twist.

NIGHT OF THE FIRSTLINGS: (3 out of 5 stars)
I feel this was loosely based on the Hebrews' exodus from Egypt.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Startling Originality August 13, 2013
By Cynthia
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lanagan's stories have a startling originality, in fact they are so fresh that a few of the them were confusing (The Point of Roses) but the best of them (Night of the Firstlings and Ferryman). These last two started obscurely and the truth was slowly doled out. Many of the stories were based in part on legends or received tales that Lanagan reworks to make them new.

Since this collection is designated as Young Adult I kept trying to imagine how they would read to the designated over twelve audience. I found that challenging. Young readers may not be familiar with the genesis of the tales yet that might be an advantage since they'd have an open mind with few preconceptions however there were unsettling concepts. I know most teens have seen more scary movies than us adults but those aren't usually psychologically complicated. These stories were and that's the problem.

"Yellow Cake' is well written and psychologically insightful and most of them have a moral lesson BUT they are brutal, some of them extremely so. They include rape, death, murder, casual violence, war, hunger, and drugs. It bothers to think of Young Adults reading them but definitely anyone under 18 should be discouraged away from them. I'm in my mid 50's and was deeply disturbed by the concepts which, of course, also speak to their power. My feeling is that there's enough horror all around us without reading fiction like this. Ironically I might have been less negative if Lanagan was not such an astounding writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Macabre and Magnificent June 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
All the stories in Yellowcake are intelligent, fascinating, and haunting. But most of these tales are only pretty in the telling.

Lanagan creates exceptionally intense imagery. I can't get the the gigantic floating "harvest" in "All in a Day's Work" out of my head, nor can I expunge the animated building in "The Eyelids of the Dawn." I don't want to, in the case of the latter, it's just too incredible an image to forget. "Ferryman" and "Into the Clouds on High" explore the loss of a parent with strong mythology/theology symbology that never gets in the way of a good story. "The Point of Roses" explores the magic of the Travelers, and does it beautifully. If there's a weak one in here, it's "Night of the Firstlings," which devolves into a sing-songy, dialect-laden horror tale that lacks two things; plot specifics and a point.

There are two fairytale retellings, "The Golden Shroud" and "Catastrophic Disruption of the Head." The Rapunzel tale is is not outstanding, but "Catastrophic," a grisly retelling of "The Tinderbox," is one of my favorites despite the death and rape. Let's face it, fairytales are grisly! And Lanagan has a reason for retelling, which is what so many re-crafted fairytales lack. She uses a fairytale to explore Western corruption to great effect.

I am a fan of Lanagan's short fiction, but found my one foray into her novels (Tender Morsels) astonishing, and not in a good way. I can't believe this work has been classified as YA. Yellowcake, though at times full of savagery and dismemberment, was fairly tame in comparison to her work for young readers. In all, this is a difficult and beautiful collection by a gifted short story writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grimly Seductive July 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never read Margo Lanagan before, and I'm not really a short story collection reader, so I almost stayed away from this one. What tempted me was the title. I know that it's a silly reason to get a book, but the title kept me coming back and I finally bit the bullet and selected the book.

I'm very glad I did. While I'll still never be a story collection person, these stories are dark little gems, each strangely seductive in its own right. My favorites were takes on old fairytales like Rapunzel and The Magic Tinder Box. Although the stories feature Young Adults as the main characters, the tales are absolutely suited for an older audience.

I don't know that I'll revisit the book in the future, but I will certainly seek out something else by the author. She has me incredibly intrigued.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Reading Yellowcake is like spending the afternoon with a beautiful...
...exactly the sort of character you're likely to meet in Margo Lanagan's book. The writing was evocative and spare, sometimes lovely, sometimes repellent. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Catherine A. Edwards
4.0 out of 5 stars an overall good collection
The ten short stories collected here cover different genres and create their own little worlds. I liked that about them and found the telling intriguing, but felt that the author's... Read more
Published 11 months ago by TorridlyBoredShopper
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed collection of short stories
Ten short stories from Margo Lanagan are anthologized here, spanning time and space. Ranging from fantasy to science fiction to horror, each tale is its own little universe,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Suzi Hough
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, fresh short fiction
I've been a fan of short fiction for decades, beginning with Ray Bradbury's stories, which I read as a young teen in the 1980s, and moving on through the writings of Ray Carver,... Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. H.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and poetic with twist
Dark and vivid words that create an atmosphere without being offensive, The stories are short but will stick with you and think of them way after you read them. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kippoe
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical Short Stories
First, if you are not a fan of short stories, you should probably avoid this book, as it's a collection of ten stories. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lauri Crumley Coates
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air
I absolutely love a good collection of short stories, and Yellowcake is a great collection! I felt fulfilled when I finished this book and spent weeks in her worlds. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Holly K. Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars A love and hate relationship
The writing of this book is powerful and unrelenting. There is an immediacy to it, and a closeness to the writer that is just alluring. Read more
Published 12 months ago by iGertrude
4.0 out of 5 stars Yellowcake
Margo Lanagan has a talent for writing original stories, and can actually be quite shocking. Stories partly based on legends, with her own twists. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten Short Stories
I'm not really crazy about short story books, but this one was pretty good. These stories are a bit creepy, but admittedly, I get creeped out pretty easily. Read more
Published 13 months ago by A. M. Brinkley
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