A new collection of stories from A. S. Byatt is always a winner, and this one takes an unexpected turn, bringing shivers as well as delights. Leaves rustle underfoot in a dark wood: two middle-aged women walk into a forest, as they did when they were girls, confronting their fears and memories and the strange thing they saw in their childhood - or thought they saw - so long ago. A distinguished obstetrician and young woman artist find they have sharply contrasting ideas about body parts, birth and death; an innocent member of an evening class harbours unexpected view on 'raw material'. The stories in this marvellous collection are by turns funny, spooky, sparkling and haunting. The Little Black Book of Stories holds its secrets, adding a dark quality to Byatt's famous skill in mixing folk and fairy tale with everyday life.