Willful Creatures is Aimee Bender's third work of fiction, and unlike most any other writer working today, she follows Aristotle's adage: That which is probable and impossible is better than that which is possible and improbable. Fairy tales for the 21st century, Bender's stories conjure worlds where a man takes a Lilliputian for a pet and a couple with pumpkins for heads gives birth to an iron-headed child. The author's delivery is straightforward and matter-of-fact. The surreal and the magical, as well as the normal and the traditional, coexist so perfectly that one is no better no more real than the other.

Often, Bender's narrators display a detached calm, the voice sure and even as it describes cruel teenage torment or the curiosities of an unexpected romantic relationship. Precisely because of this style, she is able to highlight those universals of love, hurt, family, loneliness and grace to a higher clarity. The truth is not obscured by the common and everyday. The Lilliputian is his owner's desire for connection made incarnate, and the iron-headed child is the vehicle by which Bender is able to show the limitless boundaries of a family's love. Through fairy tales, fables, imagined worlds where the impossible becomes true, Bender pulls you in. More importantly, she makes you believe.

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