By: Helen Oyeyemi
What makes a marriage? Is it the end of fairytale romance? It might be if your husband is the writer Mr Fox, who does devilish things to the heroines of his stories. His wife is unable to change his ways, but when his imaginary muse, Mary Foxe conjures herself one sunny afternoon and confronts him, things take an unexpected turn.
Completion: What a confusing book. I would NOT have finished it if it wasn’t assigned for class.
Writing/Style: Oyeyemi definitely writes with a laissez faire approach in regards to helping the reader understand the story. There are little to no clues to guide the reader. This book depends solely upon the reader to puzzle out these stories for meaning, plot, and character.
Characters: While Mary and Daphne were interesting, I found Mr. Fox extremely problematic and worrisome. The idea of a man taking such enjoyment from killing women — even fictional women — was immediately off-putting, and as I watched the story almost entirely diverge from the summary presented on the backcover (which seemed to suggest that Mr. Fox would realize his faults and that there would be redemption), I grew even more frustrated with having to read about such a toxic character.
Plot/Pacing: I liked the idea that the backcover gives; however, do not be fooled: that is not the story you will be getting. Most of the short stories taken on their own are interesting, but they are only weakly held together by this experimental novel.
World-building/Atmosphere: What world? What atmosphere? A reader must know things before they can comment. I spent the majority of this novel not knowing where or when this story takes place among other important details.
FINAL VERDICT: In the end, this book is too experimental for its own good. If you can actually figure out what is going on and still like it, more power to you.