Please read my gloating perversion of a fairytale.
Tender Morsels - the paedophilic ring to which it's presumably intended [Where do they get this idea? Google 'tender morsels' without the 'lanagan' and all you'll get is recipes and restaurant reviews.] - is aimed at teenagers, girls in the main, 14 and older, going by the various sales pitches, and while its inventive language and imagery suggests a mind at work, this is not a book for minds that are works in progress.Then he does what they did to Anne Fine in the UK, which is, blindside an 'expert' (in this case a 'noted clinical psychologist') with their version of the book and ask her to comment without giving her a chance to check out the book in question and form her own opinion.
Try this for an opening sentence: "There are plenty would call her a slut for it," writes Lanagan about a sexual encounter between fairytale characters, one a dwarf.
Working her way smartly through what are normally considered taboos of children's literature, Lanagan has the main character repeatedly raped by her father, to whom she falls pregnant before a luridly described miscarriage...
You know that gang rape and sodomy will be on this wretched agenda as each fetid scene unfolds.
Publishers packaged the book in several ways. One had the hard, haunted face of a young girl looking over her shoulder. Hers are eyes that have witnessed horror. It's the adult version. [No, this one's actually the Young Adult (UK) version. It also bears a printed warning: 'Not suitable for younger readers'.]
But there are covers that invite younger attention: one has a bear, seemingly dancing with two little girls. [This is the adult UK version. Look closer to see the general creepiness of both bear (note his teeth and claws) and young women (they're clearly not 'little girls'), and the scattering of crows.] Another has a young woman reassuringly cuddling perhaps that same bear [No, different bear. Also, being kind of clawed by that bear. Also, surrounded by thorns. Not super-reassuring, I wouldn't have thought].
It's such poor journalism, so low and so dumb, so crappily edited (right down to an 'umbilical chord') and so hungry for sensation—and so second-hand ('Oh, we didn't realise we were supposed to be shocked about this book until our sister rags in the UK took a swing at it'). It'd be depressing if it weren't so funny. No, it's both, you're right.