Author(s): Heather O'Neill
A cherub breaks all the rules when he spends one night with a girl on earth. A soldier is brought back to life by a toymaker, but he's not grateful. A Jewish girl falls in love and into danger to survive the Paris occupation. And a child begins the story of a Gypsy and a bear, who have to finish it themselves. With her blazing imagination, irreverent humour and arresting prose, Heather O'Neill - shortlisted for the Women's Prize and the Giller - twists old tales anew, setting them on the battlefields of World War Two and in the wilderness of downtown Montreal. More magical for their realism, more profound for their darkness, they are captivating, witty and wicked.
Like [Angela] Carter, O'Neill subverts her stories with an adult and casually seamy emphasis, and she is relentlessly inventive ... Never less than entertaining, Daydreams of Angels has an agile intelligence Sunday Times Magical and inventive Macleans Strange but irresistible fairy tales for adults ... O'Neill is a wondrous writer whose clean declarative sentences push the stories forward. She also has an astonishing gift for metaphor Toronto Star Wonderful, heart-catching book of storytelling ... It is indicative of O'Neill's tendency toward the grittily dreamy that they blend together so deliciously Winnipeg Free Press When angels make an appearance in literary fiction, they tend to be either ethereal and symbolic or wretched and questing. In her endearingly weird debut story collection, novelist O'Neill (The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, 2014, etc.) offers up celestial creatures who don't fall neatly into either camp-they chain-smoke, they pass out business cards, they're even "sleazy and ridiculous." If you're enticed by this idea, O'Neill's dark fairy tales will be right up your alley. She takes the classic trope of a lost soul in search of salvation and gives it a parade of original twists: a Gypsy, himself the product of a child's imagination, has an existential crisis in a whorehouse; a pair of Canadian twins discover their muse on a deserted island; a group of damaged dolls at a rummage sale crave unconditional love but recognize its limitations. The author has contributed to This American Life, and it's easy to imagine her slice-of-surreal-life stories coming through the radio in dulcet tones, the narrator sounding a shade surprised by each reveal. O'Neill's angels are like the unhinged couple at a cocktail party-they can't stop fighting and making out, and we definitely can't look away. Keep this collection on the nightstand, and you'll be sure to kick your dreamscape up a notch Kirkus
Heather O'Neill has written for This American Life and the New York Times. Her first novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was shortlisted for the Orange Women's Prize; her second, The Girl who was Saturday Night, was longlisted for the Baileys Women's Fiction Prize, and shortlisted for the Giller Prize, as was her collection of short stories, Daydreams of Angels. She lives in Montreal with her daughter and a chihuahua named Hamlet.