Not since Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber have old stories been made to feel so electrically new.
Not since Wim Winders' Wings of Desire have the numinous and the everyday been so magically combined.
It's in the nature of myth to be infinitely adaptable.
Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she'll ever find love.
They're ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #MeToo. All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore.
The ancients invented myths to express what they didn't understand. These witty fables, elegantly written and full of sharp-eyed observation of modern life, are also visionary explorations of potent mysteries and strange passions, charged with the hallucinatory beauty and horror of their originals.
About the Author
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, the Political Book Awards Political Biography of the Year and the Costa Biography Award. Before that, she wrote Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award.
Lucy lives in London.
"Packed with magic"