Author(s): Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Not since Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber have old stories been made to feel so electrically new. Not since Wim Winders' Wings of Desire have the numinous and the everyday been so magically combined. It's in the nature of myth to be infinitely adaptable. Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she'll ever find love. They're ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #metoo. All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore. The ancients invented myths to express what they didn't understand. These witty fables, elegantly written and full of sharp-eyed observation of modern life, are also visionary explorations of potent mysteries and strange passions, charged with the hallucinatory beauty and horror of their originals.