This book was a total surprise.
I can’t even remember why I bought it, just a random purchase that kind of sucked me in deep and spat me out the other end confused and overwhelmed and somehow.... moved. I don’t even know why. It was such an unexpected read, a treat I suppose, written by an Australian author called Penni Russon.
This story takes place almost in two different realities, both written in different tenses (one is the more common first person present tense and the other is written in a fascinating way, like an ode from the main character to herself, as in ‘You walk here and you think this’....which was strangely off-kilter and beautiful).
The book itself is short, and the protagonist is kind of young (early teens) but this novel definitely doesn’t feel young. It is haunting and beautiful and ... strange. I actually really utterly loved it.
The story thread based in our reality follows the protagonist as she deals with a tragedy, and we watch as it changes her, as the way she looks at the world shifts. I guess it is a sad little story about a young girl growing up.
The other story thread has more focus and time in the novel, and despite being the weirder setting, it is written in a less dreamy and more gritty hard hitting way.
This story follows a different protagonist, almost a reflection of that main character yet set in a shifted reality filled with broken things and broken people. This storyline was my favourite, it is fascinating and consistently surprising, as in, I just could not figure out where it was going, and when you have immersed yourself in millions of stories, not knowing becomes kind of, well, rare.
For this story thread the language changes, like this other world has its own culture, own way of speaking, own way of being.
It is dark and gritty and odd.
And the ending. You know what, I still haven’t quite figured it out, but I kind of like that.
The two realities shift and blur, some threads evident in each separate story and others clearly not. In some ways I can see how they are the same aspects of one life, but in other ways they couldn’t be, as the girl who lives in the broken world at times feels more real and alive and herself than the character who resides in our own normal world. It is her story and that of her broken world that breathes the most life into this fascinating book. I cannot describe how much I adored her storyline, how rich and real the characters and world felt to me, while remaining so utterly unexpected and odd.
This is such a strange little book, but unbelievably beautiful in its own way, especially beautiful in it’s somewhat gritty dark setting and bleak subject matter. It is strangely magical. And so utterly odd.
It is like a dark little fairytale.
And finally, to finish, here is my favourite Goodreads review for this novel, provided by user ' Lesley'.
'The author comes up with some very beautiful turns of phrase but idk how high she must have been to come up with this fever dream of a novel.'
Now, Lesley didn't rate the book as highly as I definitely would, but even so, her review works for me. I think its the words 'fever dream'. That is exactly what this novel is like.
It is an utter fever dream.
And it is beautiful.