The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories

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Categories: Fantasy/Horror
Publisher: Small Beer Press | Date published: 04/19/2011


Joan Aiken's short stories of the gothic, the uncanny, and the unexpected have captivated readers for fifty years. They're funny, smartly observed, and occasionally very, very scary. The nineteen stories collected here for the first time include two previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee as well as six stories never before published. There are also two introductions: one by Aiken herself, and the other by Lizza Aiken, her daughter.

A Monkey's Wedding is a traditional description for a sunshower. This phenomenon (simultaneous sunshine and showers) has a wide range of folkloric names which refer to the marriage of 'trickster' animals such as hyenas, foxes, or jackals--or even the devil. It's as if the sun girl and rain man unexpectedly walked out of the weather house at the same time: something is going to happen. It might also stand as a characteristic metaphor for Joan Aiken's work: for the sometimes humorous and sometimes bittersweet triumph of the human spirit in adversity.

A village is for sale . . . or is the village itself the story? On his deathbed a vicar declares he might have lived an entirely different life, and then a large, black, argumentative cat makes an appearance. . . . As the marriage of dairy maid and an artist comes apart, the dairy maid volunteers to be shot out a cannon. And in the cover story, "A Mermaid Too Many," a sailor brings home a present for his intended--but of course, as is liable to happen in a Joan Aiken story, nothing goes as he intended.