Catherine Fisher remains supremely able at injecting her own particular brand of menacing fantasy even into the shortest of stories. Her protagonists are always children, conscious where others are not of shadows that don’t quite make sense, mirrors that reflect more than they should and ancient myths intent on re-emerging in contemporary backgrounds. The nine stories in this collection do not have the same force of her longer novels but they are still highly readable and engaging. There is no set formula; one tale features a pair of haunted gloves, another goes into dream territory and a third features a white hare that is rather more than she seems. Some stories are set in the past, others come from today where characters still travel on the school bus and parents worry about homework not completed. In every case, she creates a fictional world like ours in many ways but also capable of suddenly seeming alarmingly different at the turn of a page. Black and white illustrations at the start of each story from an unattributed artist add to the overall spooky effect.
The author was appointed the first Wales Young People’s Laureate from 2011 for two years. Before that she won the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Her first of many novels was published in 1990, and many have since been widely translated. On this showing there seem bound to be many more equally high-quality titles still to come.