Few stories in the new collection can truly be said to reinterpret existing tales ... What the narrator gives with one hand...she takes away with the other ... But the reader remains distracted and amused—by puns and metafictional flourishes and talking snakes and literary allusions that make us feel clever, and, most of all, by the snug security blanket of genre convention. We think we’re reading a fairy tale, so the seeker will find the object of his quest; we think we’re reading a character portrait, which means that the subject will, in the end, be known ... The question of where a story should begin and end is one that recurs throughout White Cat, Black Dog, and is part of what gives the stories a melancholy air of flux and fragility.
A new collection of Kelly Link short stories...is always cause for both celebration and anxiety: Few and far between are the authors whose stories knife you in the ribs so smoothly and expertly that you’re left admiring the workmanship of the handle. Those in White Cat, Black Dog are no exception ... Though each of the seven stories in this collection is subtitled with a classic fairy tale or ballad, they are not straightforward retellings or reworkings; rather, Link treats them as ingredients from which to build a delicate, threatening feast. These stories have the sticky, tensile strength of spider silk, building webs that draw as much attention to the twigs from which they’re suspended as they do to the dew shimmering on the threads and to the creatures caught and trembling in them.
A set of seven slipstream short stories that edge, in length, toward novelettes. Where her earlier collections were anchored by a zany, wondrous youthfulness...this one seems to convey: Never fear, aging has entertaining horrors all its own ... Bizarrely fractured ... Link’s permutations retain palpable atmospheric similarities to their originals, marked by the same flatness of character and affect that characterize traditional fairy tales, as well as similarly bloody plots. Link intensifies her versions by making the stories wilder and setting them in mundane, contemporary situations ... Link leans on a signature technique she employs in other collections, too ... The atmosphere of these stories is uneasy, much like aging.