An astonishingly well-crafted work of social and political satire.

THE CONSTANT RABBIT

Rabbits, foxes, weasels, and other creatures live as humans, among humans in Fforde’s wonderfully absurd new novel.

Fifty-five years ago, the Spontaneous Anthropormorphizing Event resulted in 18 rabbits, “six weasels, five guinea pigs, three foxes, a Dalmatian, a badger, nine bees and a caterpillar” inexplicably becoming, well, anthropomorphized. As time went on, the animals continued to reproduce—especially the rabbits—causing a bit of a political crisis for humans, who are loathe to extend human rights to human-adjacent creatures. Rabbits in particular are subject to cruelty and suspicion because of their rapid reproductive rate, causing political parties like the United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party and hate groups like TwoLegsGood (because humans, unlike animals, have two legs, get it?) to rise to immense power. Racism as we know it still exists in this world, as does Brexit. Indeed, "the consequences of the Event seemed to highlight areas of the human social experience that perhaps needed greater exploration, understanding and some kind of concerted action...although once a fringe idea, the notion that the event might have been satirically induced was gaining wider acceptance.” And is there anyone who can write satire quite like Fforde? Perhaps the sharpest, most searing aspect of this brilliant satire is the choice of Peter Knox as narrator. An unassuming human who thinks himself a well-meaning cog in a regrettably evil machine, Knox finds himself at the very center of the rabbit resistance. Not only must he make the choice to atone for the part he has played in the violent government organization RabCoT (Rabbit Compliance Taskforce) and put himself in danger for a greater good, but he learns to embrace a supporting role in a struggle that is not about him at all.

An astonishingly well-crafted work of social and political satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-59-329652-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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