I don’t usually like child in peril/child suffering/missing child fiction. As a parent, I find them too disturbing. For some reason, two of the books that I read in October were weird missing/suffering child thrillers. I still found them overly disturbing, but there was enough weirdness in them to keep my curiously reading while I cringed. Here are a couple mini reviews for those who can handle such books:
Title: The Last House on Needless Street
Author: Catriona Ward
Genre: Unreliable Narrator Weirdness
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
If you like unreliable narrators and can handle disturbing/abusive content, this is the book for you. There are multiple first person POV narrators (including a talking, Bible-reading cat) and some third person limited omniscient narration. It’s the kind of story where you spend a lot of it trying to figure out what is going on with dawning horror and some barely believable twists. A lot of it has been done before, but the author does it very well (even if her self-important afterward is a bit overblown).
Title: The Changeling
Author: Victor LaValle
Genre: Magical Realism/Fairytale Mess
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
I picked this up in spite of the “missing child” plot because I enjoyed LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, and this book won multiple awards and rave reviews. Unfortunately, I thought the book was an absolute mess. It’s one of those “magical realism” things where “magical realism” is an excuse for incoherent worldbuilding, illogical character behavior, and plot coming in a distant second to preachy ideology. Parts were compelling, but it felt like three largely unrelated stories smashed clumsily together with an eye on portraying big important themes (importance of family, difficulty of being a black woman, dangers of white males and social media) rather than on presenting a coherent narrative.