Tender Morsels

by Margo Lanagan

Lanagan, M. (2008). Tender morsels. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers. Kindle.

Reader’s Annotation Liga and her daughters Branza and Urrda live in a perfect world where wild beasts are easily trained, strangers are kind and money never changes hands. What Branza Urrda don’t know is how they ended up in this world and the terrible  suffering their mother endured before they arrived. As the girls age and their world begins to crumble Liga finds that the real world and her perfect heaven aren’t so distant after all.

Plot Summary

Liga is fifteen and she’s been living with her father alone in the woods for sometime since her mother died. Her father is an awful drunk of a man who abuses her in every way imaginable and tricks her into taking a witches brew to dispose of the evidence of his foulness. One night he doesn’t come home, and soon after she finds him dead on the side road. For a time she is safe and nearly happy in the cottage.

After a terrifying attack by some town boys Liga meets a mysterious, ethereal being who instructs her to plant two stones outside the doors to her cottage. When she wakes the next morning she finds that she’s been transported, somehow, to a place remarkably similar to her own town, but without all of the unpleasantness which has so plagued her growing up. So Liga and her daughters grow and thrive in this perfect world, living in harmony with their neighbors and nature.

The real world still exists though and plenty of mischief is being made within. When a man pays a hedge witch to help him find his dream world and he tumbles into Liga’s by mistake, the boundaries between the two worlds start to crumble and Liga and her daughters begin to receive unexpected and unwelcome visitors. When Urrda disappears from the world where Liga and Branza make their home things become even more troubling. What will become of this perfect world? Will the family ever be reunited?

Critical Evaluation

I don’t know if this is actually a YA Book. It’s got some pretty gross sex stuff in it that gives me a stomach ache just to think about, much less read or recount in an evaluation of the novel. If you can manage to get around the sexual violence and incest though, at its heart, this is an excellent novel. It’s really a story about growing into… well a human being. Liga is transported to this magic world where nothing bad ever happens, the perfect world created by a psychologically tormented, raped and abused 15 year old. As she grows up though, as she heals, it remains the same world, and perhaps not a world that suits a 30 year old woman or her daughters who have never known the terrors of abuse. Eventually Liga has to make peace with the regular world, for all of it’s heart break and beauty, she has to let her daughters exist in this beautiful and terrible place, and accept the bad with the good.

Author Information

Margo Lanagan was born in 1960 in New South Wales. The majority of her work has only been published in Australia, though some has received world wide attention. A collection of short stories, Black Juice won 2 World Fantasy Awards. She keeps a blog, Among Amid While at http://amongamidwhile.blogspot.com/.


Fairy Tales, Magic, Fantasy

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

Why do you think the moon baby saves Liga?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

Sexual violence, rape, incest, strong implications of beastiality. This book is not meant for young readers. Patrons will undoubtably object to some of the topics within this book. We support the ALA Library Bill of Rights and every reader’s right to read, as well as their privacy. We do not condone or censorship. We will reconsider any book, and reserve the right to make final decisions after review by the board. Alternate titles for this book are: One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke and Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

Reason for Inclusion

The assistant director of my library once told me that it was his goal to have something that was offensive to everyone in the library, including himself. For me, that is this book. It is cruel and vicious, but also a beautiful story of growth.

One response to “Tender Morsels

  1. Pingback: Index | Shortish and Bookish

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