Marjorie Liu gathers six previously published short stories and an original novella in The Tangleroot Palace, a powerful collection of speculative fiction that showcases the talent that's won her several Eisner and Hugo awards. With a range of themes and settings, the stories in The Tangleroot Palace exhibit immersive worldbuilding and emotionally evocative prose, the same style that has made her so successful in her paranormal romance novels and in powerhouse comics like Monstress (with Sana Takeda).
The collection opens with "Sympathy for the Bones," a story best described as creepy, in which a woman just crossing into adulthood murderously breaks free from the woman who has been her savior and captor for most of her life. The book ends with the titular novella, which reads like a fairytale, complete with a dangerous enchanted forest, an unwanted betrothal and an alluring stranger. In between are five stories varying widely in subject, but united by themes and archetypes readers will recognize from Liu's other work. She focuses on people, mostly women, who are morally gray: monsters with good motivations; humans who do monstrous things; women doing whatever they must for freedom and revenge.
Introducing the collection, Liu remarks that her stories are connected by a few common threads, but one lingers long after reading. Writing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, she notes that "hope in the possibility of something good--even the tiniest, most wee little good--is sometimes all we've got." While The Tangleroot Palace is certainly not lighthearted, that thread of hope guides everyone through even the darkest of times. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels