Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice by A. S. Byatt

I think the beauty of a well-written short story, is that
you can experience everything that a novel has to offer and experience it in a
really short time. I appreciate the sense of fulfillment, as E. A. Poe put
it, which you get from reading a tale in a single sitting.
When I picked up that little yellow book at the library, I
had never even heard of this fantastic author. The pages looked and smelled
rich and the book was small enough to fit into my tiny purse. I had already
found the book I was looking for, and this one, I picked without giving it a
thought. I had no idea what kind of surprise I was in for. The book is
beautiful and I was fascinated right from the first tale, I read the collection in
not more than a couple of hours.
Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice by A. S. Byatt consists
of six enchanting stories about passion and loneliness and love and hate, each of which transports you into a new world altogether. 
The first story, and one of my favourites, in this fabulous
collection is called Crocodile Tears. It is about a woman who
escapes the pain of her husband’s death by running off to some place, only to
meet another person there, who is just as lost as her. It is abrupt and on the
outside, strange, but underneath it is just a compelling combination of inner
violence and outward detachment. 
The story Cold is a Grimm-sical dark fairy
tale, about how love changes you. It is the story of Princess Fiammarosa, the
supposed descendant of an icewoman, who can only survive the heat of the day by
dancing outside on the wintry cool nights. 
There is also a surreal and comical story about a
woman who loses herself in a shopping mall and that about an artist who finds
inspiration in a beautiful monstrous snake-like creature.
A. S. Byatt is a wordsmith. She weaves together wonderful
words and beautiful sounds to create a magical, poetic language which, together
with the feelings that the stories invoke in you, leaves you enraptured. It
is also a wonderful introduction to the author, before picking up her bigger
works. If you like fantasy, art or magical realism, it is a must read!

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