Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert connects the dots left blank when reading either The Hazel Wood or The Night Country. In fact, I really wish we had this collection of tales before the release of The Night Country since that particular story revolves even more around the Hinterland tales than the first novel.
Despite all that, I enjoyed this collection of fairy tales. They are dark and very unsettling. Moreover, there is an underlying feminist anger in each of the stories that makes them fascinating and yet very uncomfortable. The only thing connecting the stories, other than the Hinterland setting, is the fact that they all involve a young woman searching for something, whether it is her mother, her purpose, happiness, or Death. Each woman learns a rather painful lesson as part of her search, and not every woman obtains a happy ending.
Tales from the Hinterland is much like Ms. Albert’s first two novels, very adult, very otherworldly without any connection to more familiar fantasy worlds. Like any good fairy tale, the stories can be rather gruesome, but others contain some fascinating magic. I still wish I was able to read this collection either before or while reading Ms. Albert’s first two novels. While Ms. Albert refers to the tales and summarizes the key stories, reading them for yourself makes them much more memorable.