Stray Bats

Margo Lanagan et al.

Dachshund droids, mad crones, shapeshifting children, a plethora of witches, dragonstalkers, familiars, slithering eels and, of course, bats, flit and fly through these pages, aided and abetted by Kathleen Jennings’s deft and inspired pencil drawings. Stray Bats is a glorious miscellany of vignettes based on poems by Australian women. While some of the pieces hie close to the originals in form and theme, some stray far, far from them even as Lanagan delights in playing with language, rhyme, and rhythm.

This could be the perfect gift for that slightly otherworldly person in your life—or for yourself, when you need a moment of magic, a dip into darkness, a spark of light.

For the reader who would like to explore further, there are a list of poems that inspired the author and notes on where those poems might be found.


“The 50 very short impressionistic stories in this evocative collection from Lanagan (Yellowcake) take inspiration from the works of a wide range of Australian female poets, each of whom is credited in the acknowledgements. In flash fiction pieces that occasionally read like character sketches or prose poems themselves, Lanagan conjures eerie ghostly girls, travelers lost in strange lands, and, most frequently, fey folk and spellcasters on the fringes of society. Lanagan fully inhabits the characters, conveying short bursts of intimate emotion and precise psychologies in rich, sensuous prose: the shapeshifter of ‘Foxwife’ inhales nocturnal scents ‘of star and moth, earth and fungus, corpse and sister, frog and scuttling mouthful;’ the witch narrator of ‘Flight School’ describes flying ‘between hill- and cloudscape… the wind in our teeth.’ Kathleen Jennings’ delicate line drawings provide perfect complements to Lanagan’s fairy tale imagery.” — Publishers Weekly

About the author

Margo Lanagan is the author of six collections of science fiction and fantasy short stories: White Time, Black Juice, Red Spikes, Yellowcake, Cracklescape, Phantom Limbs, and Singing My Sister Down and Other Stories. She has also published two award-winning dark fantasy novels, Tender Morsels and The Brides of Rollrock Island. With Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti, she wrote the high-octane YA fantasy trilogy Zeroes, which was a New York Times bestseller.
Margo is a four-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. Additionally, she has won and been shortlisted for many international and Australian literary awards, including the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize—and two of her books have been named Michael L. Printz Honor Books by YALSA. In Australia, her books have been awarded two state Premiers’ Literary Awards and shortlisted for two others, and twice named Book of the Year for Older Readers in the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards.

About the illustrator

Kathleen Jennings is an illustrator and writer in Brisbane, Australia. She is a Hugo Award finalist and has been shortlisted three times for the World Fantasy Award and has received the E. G. Harvey Award for Australian SF Art and several Ditmar Awards for professional and fan art. Many of her illustrations and incidental drawings appear on her blog and she tweets @tanaudel.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is in use.
Please feel free to use this form to contact us directly, and we'll reply by email. Thank you!

 | Subscribe to comments via RSS