Dark, strange, lyrical, and full of frustrated desire and whimsy, Carmen Lau’s debut collection of stories and novellas from Alternating Current Press paints a vivid picture of femininity in the clutches of fantasy, reflecting the brutality of growing up a girl and challenging readers to rethink fairy tales as they’ve always known them. Within, you’ll find a tender heart, a painful core, and a paradoxically disastrous and beautiful coming-of-age of every and any girl, told through fairy tales that mirror real life and are at once contemporary and timeless. Joining the ranks of Angela Carter, Kate Bernheimer, and Allyse Near, Lau weaves tales of a girl who is too fantastical to be real and too real to be fantasy.
“[…]Let me tell you why I chose, edited, and published [The Girl Wakes]: Carmen Lau’s writing is at once delicate and biting, soft and brutal, demure and harsh, and she masters that juxtaposition in a way that few others can. This is not just a book of fairy tales; it is a true book of issues, from feminism to coming-of-age to schizophrenia to bullying to body stereotypes to coming-out to familial problems to society’s ideas of right and wrong, all told with the veil of the once-upon-a-time narrative that allows for distancing and objectivity in lieu of overemotional sentimentalism, while still maintaining a warmth to the prose that is just fantastic. Carmen Lau has captured the voice and the style uniquely and perfectly, and is sure to be a name to look out for in the crosshairs of fantasy and literary fiction.”
—Leah Angstman, Alternating Current Editor-in-Chief
“You think you know these stories of wolves and witches, wicked parents and wicked children, devils and vampire boyfriends. No, you do not. Here is storytelling that is deft and dangerous. Tales that seem to hold back over a great roiling. Then they don’t. They get you.”
—Lucy Corin, author of One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses and The Entire Predicament
“A beautifully vicious first collection of retrofitted fairy tales, with whip-smart swerves, darkly funny moments, and razor-sharp language. Like Angela Carter meets Let the Right One In with a dash of Lady Vengeance tossed in for good measure.”
—Brian Evenson, author of Windeye and ALA-RUSA Award-winner Last Days
“A warning as you set out on the enchanted path Carmen Lau has created: These sharp, surprising stories beckon like the wolf’s unhinged jaw; they will delight you, devour you, transform you.”
—Elise Winn, Iowa Review Fiction Award and Fairy Tale Review Prose Award Winner
“The ‘girl’ in Carmen Lau’s fictions is a kind of shifter, moving in and out of cracked fairy tales, would-be knock-knock jokes, and scenes that run on the weird but persistent logic of certain dreams. Lau’s debut is rich, surprising, assured. Let’s take a moment to recognize the emergence of a remarkable new writer.”
—Scott Garson, author of Is That You, John Wayne?
“Haunting and beautiful, Carmen Lau’s collection reads like a fever-dream of all your familiar childhood tales. These stories are at once contemporary and timeless, intertwining modernity and the world of the ever-after with deliriously powerful prose. Readers may need a trail of breadcrumbs or a ball of twine to find their way back to reality—The Girl Wakes is mesmerizing.”
—Eric Shonkwiler, author of Above All Men and Moon Up, Past Full