"Jigs And Reels" is not so much fantasy as a slanted view of reality. Joanne Harris has taken mundane subjects and twisted them out of shape. Part of this collection of short stories covers a range of everyday events and adds Harris' particular brand of humour. From designer of sexy clothes to role-players from hell, Harris teases and surprises us. Her characters are well rounded, even in the shortest tale, we have the feeling we may have seen them in a seedy cafe or the cut-price supermarket. Harris deals with the contemporary issues of road rage, paedophilia, obsessive behaviour and the manufacture of erotic leatherwear. She also savages prejudice in 'The Little Mermaid' and pokes sly fun at fad diet worshippers.
Then, just to give a review writer a migraine, Harris takes a look at the fantastical as well, again in her own inimitable style of darkly humourous tall tale telling. She allows an Ugly Sister to tell her side of the story, brings vampire lovers' romantic vision of Gothic splendour down to earth with a almighty bump in 'Never Give A Sucker...' and sounds an off-beat warning in a futuristic tale about genetic engineering in the 'The G-SUS Gene'.
As with “Chocolat” and “Blackberry Wine” Harris is never blatant, leaving readers to draw conclusions according to their imagination. Harris has prefaced each story with a few lines describing how the inspiration for the plotline struck her. Writers and readers alike will find these prefixes a fascinating insight into the workings of a talented writer's mind.
If, as the back cover write-up suggests, this is a side of Joanne Harris we have not seen before, it is certainly a side that has always been suspected. If you see somebody scrutinising you in a café, don’t assume that you will become a character in a story. On the other hand, of course, who knows?