Anticipating her imminent transformation into a vixen, Sophia – the subject of ‘Mrs Fox’, the unsettling, erotically charged short story that opened Sarah Hall’s previous collection, Madame Zero – ‘dreams subterranean dreams, of forests, dark corridors and burrows, roots and earth’. Two years later, Hall has produced a new set of ‘subterranean dreams’. Sudden Traveller returns to the burrow of primal preoccupations from which much of her previous short-story work emerged – in 2016, as if formalising these themes, she even edited a collection called Sex and Death – but this time her writing is even tighter, angrier and more sublime.
The first story is the best. ‘M’ (the symbol historically branded on the thumb of those convicted of manslaughter, according to Duhaime’s law dictionary) begins almost as a parallel ‘Mrs Fox’, with a woman, this time a lawyer, who defends the vulnerable, experiencing ‘medieval’ pain and seeing brutal