The cover blurb calls them contemporary fables and I think it goes some way to categorise this short story collection that I’m finding hard to describe. A little bit whimsical, sometimes dark and all about life, love and death , the stories are short and surreal. The title is apt, at times I felt like I was reading myself a bedtime story for grown-ups.

It starts with a story about a book with no words and a woman that makes the book hugely successful by shouting about it. I think that’s a great start myself, so many people give publicity to things when they oppose them. As the book is filled with words we meet a duck that falls in love with a rock, a house that befriends the sea, aliens and monsters, men and women. I especially liked the story about the octopus which has inspired the cover.

I think saying they are reworked versions of age old stories is doing the collection a disservice, but my brain made connections to The Ugly Ducking, The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes among others, enough to feel that Loory was inspired by them.

I suppose this is one of those books you’re either going to love or hate. It brought a smile to my face and I was reluctant to put it down so it’s safe to say I loved it. I’m sure there’s lots of analysis that could be done but I’m going to leave it at that!

Thanks to Penguin for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley. Unfortunately, the book won’t be out in the UK in paperback until November but is available now in ebook formats and in paper via Penguin USA.

You can also follow Ben Loory on Twitter and if you’re quick there’s a current Goodreads giveaway ending in 12 hours.