rushthatspeaks: (Default)
What an unexpected little book.

This is a novel that at first glance looks like (possibly mildly pretentious) fractured-narrative post-modernist metaphor, and then looks like one very specific subgenre of horror, and then looks like a different very specific subgenre of horror, and then turns all of those inside out and jumps up and down on them, while genuinely actually being each of them. And it's like a hundred and fifty pages long, too, so I am impressed at something that can do that in the length of time.

Also, it has some very cool and creepy stuff in it, discussing most of which would totally spoil the plot.

Miranda lives in Dover in the bed and breakfast her family runs; she and her twin brother are working at getting into university; she has pica, a medical condition wherein she wants to eat things that aren't food, such as chalk, plastic, and mud, so there's some concern about her health generally, and also her mother was just accidentally murdered and no one is coping. And the reasons behind every single one of those facts are... not what I was predicting.

The central conceit of this is also specifically political in a direction I was not expecting but do think works and have not seen done in that way before.

The main problem is that, well, the narrative is very fractured in a way that does read, especially at the beginning, as mildly pretentious, as though it took her a while to find the voice of the book. And some of the jumps and transitions read as artificial and very slightly forced, as though structure is being imposed on story rather than the other way round. But if you can get beyond that, this is disconcerting in a good way, and appears nebulous while actually being very tight. It reminds me most of Caitlin Kiernan's The Red Tree, and also a bit of House of Leaves, if that helps anyone. I recommend it, although not to non-horror readers, because this book is definitely trying to scare you, and there is a short chunk of it that did scare me, which almost never happens.

Hm. I am debating doing a spoiler-cut or possibly a separate spoiler entry, because really just about everything unique about this book should not be discussed without that, and I find that I've left out of this review the things I really liked. Trust me, they're there? I may come back and do that tomorrow, but I want to think about it a while longer.


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