Reviewed by Stewart Horn
A young struggling writer/ actress/ model finds a genuine mythical beast in her wardrobe one day and agrees to let it stay. In lieu of rent it tells her stories. This is the framing device for a wonderful collection in which the titular chimaera tells the un-named protagonist stories that reflect her current situation. They are mainly light and comic in tone, and often have an up-beat and reassuring message.
As you might expect, the tales feature mythical beings and fairy tales, but with a modern sensibility. One features the goddess Artemis in a contemporary suburban situation, and introduces us to splendid characters Sergeant Prendergast and PC Oliver. Then two ancient Egyptian lovers find each other in a museum after 2,000 years. There is a gloriously perverse take on ‘The Frog Prince’, and a demon with fantastic supernatural powers who is still trying to get a break in show business.
There is a biker gang that includes gods and titans – they attend a very strange art exhibition; a sad and beautiful retelling of Rumplestiltskin, and my personal favourite ‘The Tump’, a wholly comic piece in which the queen of the fairies meets a stern puritan minister.
So much of what I read explores the darkest aspects of humanity. By comparison, this is a delight, making me smile often, and causing people on the train to wonder what I’m laughing at.
A whimsical, beautifully written and completely charming book, guaranteed to brighten anyone’s life.