Good morning everyone! November is here and for this bookworm, it means the imminent arrival of one of my most anticipated fall events: the Giller Light Bash! For those who aren’t familiar with the event, it’s basically a big party for bookish people to gather and watch a livestream of the Scotiabank Giller Prize gala! The Giller Light Bash is hosted in 7 cities across Canada and raises money for Frontier College, Canada’s original literacy organization. Learn more about the bash, find a location, and buy your tickets here.
As a part of the celebrations, the wonderful Giller Light Bash coordinators have put together a Giller Light Bash blog tour. Sarah from Special Edition did a fantastic job kicking off the tour with her review of Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs, and I’m thrilled to be reviewing Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill today!
Following Sarah’s lead, I’ll add a small disclaimer here: I’m currently an intern at HarperCollins Canada, the publisher of Daydreams of Angels. However, I’ll assure you that I’ve been a Heather O’Neill fan since before then, and all of the opinions below are my own.
Now, on to the review! I always find short stories collections hard to review, and, I’ll admit, such is the case for Daydreams of Angels. In this wildly inventive collection, O’Neill presents 20 unique, poignant, and amusing tales that are all worthy of being analyzed and discussed. How is one supposed to sum up such a complex book in mere paragraphs?
In Daydreams of Angels, readers enter dreamworld after dreamworld, living out fable-like stories filled with O’Neill’s signature metaphors and poignant observations. These tales are all touching in some way, and will surely leave an impression on readers. I almost feel like the collection is so eclectic that it makes it hard for me to summarize; O’Neill’s versatility makes it so utterly enjoyable and fresh. No two stories are the same.
Some of the top stories from the collection, for me, were the ones that blended fantasy and reality: “The Gypsy and the Bear” follows two characters who must continue on with their lives after the child that invented them sets them aside; a child and his brother listen to their grandfather’s wild tale about his past courtships in “The Isles of Dr. Moreau”‘ and in “Messages in Bottles,” a pair of siblings find a place of their own. However, surprisingly, my absolute favourite story, “The Man Without a Heart,” had less to do with invented worlds and more about a loving — albeit unconventional — mentor one could only dream about. This story about an unlikely friendship tugged at my emotions in a way that I haven’t felt since reading The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
Overall, Daydreams of Angels is an incredibly entertaining and sometimes absurd collection of short stories. It has been labelled as “fairy tales for adults,” and I couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re looking to escape the real world or just want to be entertained for a few minutes, Daydreams of Angels has the perfect story for you.
Read the 2015 Giller Prize shorlist jury citation here.
Verdict: A very strong follow-up to The Girl Who Was Saturday Night that displays O’Neill’s talent for crafting interesting yet touching stories. I was enthralled by the collection and can’t wait to read more from her!
Read if: You enjoy short stories, agree that fairy tales never go out of style, want to daydream with Heather O’Neill.
Are you a fan of Heather O’Neill? Have you read Daydreams of Angels? Which book do you want to take home the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
Psst, don’t forget to visit Jessica at Not My Typewriter tomorrow to see what she thought of Rachel Cusk’s Outline!