A troubled woman tumbles down a dark path of deception and violence when three mythological creatures disrupt her life and marriage.
Constance is a woman with many problems, the most immediate of which is having to put on social graces and schmooze with the wives of her husband’s coworkers. The stress from one strained brunch meeting and the underlying tension with her husband, Sam, inspires Constance to do some impulse retail-therapy; drawn to a Grecian vase in a window display, she makes an ill-advised, expensive purchase. The antiques shopkeeper warns her against it, but Constance’s desire for the vase overrides any words of caution. Obsessed, she fights with her husband about reckless spending, but it’s when she opens the vase that her life truly spirals out of control and past problems resurface. Three wasplike creatures, Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone, emerge from the vase and ultimately dredge up memories of Constance’s troubled relationship with her mother, Madeline. When Constance was young, she played with an imaginary friend named Rose; the Grecian troublemakers bring Rose back into Constance’s life. In the past, Rose’s “presence” disturbed and distressed Madeline, but in the present Constance and Madeline no longer speak, and Constance allows worldly, savvy, lustful Rose to possess her and Tisiphone to guide her, leading Constance into a treacherous world of violence, drugs and sex and revealing long-buried secrets about her parents’ marriage as well as her marriage to Sam, which was what prompted Madeline to disown her. The arc of the story hooks the reader with Bryant masterfully building suspense by gradually parsing out information, pulling the reader along on Constance’s downward trajectory. Though compelling, the darkness of the story may begin to wear on the reader as Constance’s life grows increasingly out-of-control. Some of Constance’s woes are understandable (chafing under an overbearing mother, longing for her deceased father), but many of her actions are reprehensible and her treatment of complete strangers is baffling. Despite the darkness, this is a well-crafted story and a fascinating modern spin on ancient Greek folklore, blended with family drama.
A relentlessly cheerless but deftly rendered tale of one woman’s struggle to reconcile family secrets and her problematic marriage, while an ancient curse intervenes.