As the author of more than forty books, it was only a matter of time before Margaret Atwood returned to writing short fiction, and Stone Mattress is an incredible collection of work that deserves the overwhelming acclaim it has so far received.

Interestingly, Atwood chose to dub her new book a collection of nine tales, rather than short stories, because of the tradition that the word evokes. The International Bestseller’s decision was rightly made, considering that the complex and incredibly imaginative tales that fill Stone Mattress will certainly stand the test of time.

Stone Mattress opens with a three-part tale, detailing a recent widow’s harrowing journey through an ice storm, and offers perspectives from two other unlikely, yet nonetheless fascinating characters. “Lusus Naturae” explores the daily challenges of a woman suffering from a disease with vampire-like symptoms. Other stand-outs include “The Dead Hand Loves You,” which delves into the unlikely success of a gnarly first novel, and “Torching the Dusties,” a harbinger of what could result from increasingly scarce resources.

Throughout, Atwood doesn’t miss a beat, and seamlessly creates characters full of dimension and relatability. Despite the fact that the world-class author spins other-worldly tales, her subtle social commentary is both unmistakable and undeniable – and a much welcomed breath of fresh air.

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