Stray Bats

Margo Lanagan Kathleen Jennings  - published November 2019

saddle-stitched paperback · 68 pages · 9781618731753 · ebook, 9781618731760

Number 13 in the Small Beer chapbook series.

Aurealis Award finalist

Dachshund droids, sinister crones, shapeshifting children, a plethora of witches, dragonstalkers, familiars, slithering eels and, of course, bats, flit and fly through these pages, aided and abetted by Kathleen Jennings’s inspired pencil drawings. Stray Bats is a madcap miscellany consisting of fifty vignettes based on poems by Australian women. Lanagan delights in playing with language, rhyme, and rhythm.

This could be the perfect gift for that slightly otherworldly person in your life—or for yourself, when you need a moment of magic, a dip into darkness, a spark of light.

For the reader who would like to explore further, there are a list of poems that inspired the author and notes on where those poems might be found.


“What a breath of fresh air this chapbook collection is. From start to finish I was enthralled with the wildly original takes Margo Lanagan has on storytelling. . . . Highly recommended.” — Charles de Lint, F&SF

“Those who, like me, feel the occasional need for an infusion of Margo Lanagan’s visceral, sometimes knotty, and always elegant prose could do no better than to wander through the 50 short pieces of Stray Bats, many of them inspired by the work of Aus­tralian women poets.” — Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“The 50 very short impressionistic stories in this evocative collection from Lanagan (Yellowcake) take inspiration from the works of a wide range of Australian female poets, each of whom is credited in the acknowledgements. In flash fiction pieces that occasionally read like character sketches or prose poems themselves, Lanagan conjures eerie ghostly girls, travelers lost in strange lands, and, most frequently, fey folk and spellcasters on the fringes of society. Lanagan fully inhabits the characters, conveying short bursts of intimate emotion and precise psychologies in rich, sensuous prose: the shapeshifter of “Foxwife” inhales nocturnal scents “of star and moth, earth and fungus, corpse and sister, frog and scuttling mouthful;” the witch narrator of “Flight School” describes flying “between hill- and cloudscape… the wind in our teeth.” Kathleen Jennings’ delicate line drawings provide perfect complements to Lanagan’s fairy tale imagery.” — Publishers Weekly

About the author

Margo Lanagan has published two dark fantasy novels, and Stray Bats is her eighth short story collection. She collaborated with Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti on the New York Times-bestselling YA superheroes trilogy, Zeroes. Her work has won four World Fantasy Awards, nine Aurealis and five Ditmar Awards. Her books and stories have been translated into 19 languages. Margo lives in Sydney. Her twitter is @margolanagan.

About the illustrator

Kathleen Jennings is an illustrator and writer in Brisbane, Australia. She is a Hugo Award finalist and has been shortlisted three times for the World Fantasy Award and has received the E. G. Harvey Award for Australian SF Art and several Ditmar Awards for professional and fan art. Many of her illustrations and incidental drawings appear on her blog and she tweets @tanaudel.

Table of Contents

AWin Wind Age
Kites in the fog
More Information to Help You Get to Rookwood
Sail Away
Maiden Flight
Stray Bats
Shrunken Alice
Flight to Loreto
Party to an Invocation
Flight School
The Axe
Being Summoned
Spirit Girl
Dragon Bride
Aged Caring
Buff-house Review
Passed Master
Hand Magic
Skilling UpDigs
Getting There
Those Women
Kez the Gardener
Tower View
Rabbit’s Foot
A Small Affair
Spring Visitor
Witches of a Certain Age
To a Mentee
The Evidence
Feejee Mermaid