Leaton’s debut psychological thriller takes place in the fractured mind of Vivienne Coroth, who, believing herself a descendant of Faeries, may be plotting revenge against her ex-lover and his new wife.
Thanks to a court order, Vivienne can’t get anywhere near her ex, Callum, or his wife, Mary. So Vivienne starts writing a blog for Callum, hiding a password for website access in the pages of a letter she sends him. As far as Vivienne knows, Callum won’t find the password, but he’ll wish he had: Vivienne is regularly watching Mary and the couple’s twin toddler sons at the mall. She snatches one of the boys, Samuel, and spends days telling him about her Faerie family, beginning in the late 18th century—a history she knows because her ancestors’ memories have been passed on to her. But Vivienne has plans for Samuel, involving a powerful spell that she’ll soon cast. Leaton’s novel has great fun toying with perspective; the entire narrative is the blog, as Vivienne posts letters to and from Callum, as well as correspondence from Callum’s lawyers, who strongly suggest she stop writing her ex. Vivienne firmly believes that she’s a Faerie (she looks human but makes it clear she isn’t one), but Leaton avoids confirming the possibility as fact. This results in numerous bizarre, often humorous sequences in which Vivienne, for instance, converses with Samuel who, at a mere 18 months, speaks in adult-sized sentences: “The stuff about the uncles was hardly a lullaby, was it? Oh, sanitise it for me if you must. Just give me the facts about your eponymous ancestress.” There are likewise hilarious reminders of his age (he still plays with blocks), which tend to offset the seriousness of a child having been kidnapped. Vivienne recounts to Samuel a great deal of her background (mostly Faerie but some of her human family, too) and a few of her dreams; these sufficiently mold the woman’s mindset, but they’re also a bit excessive, coming across as a series of only moderately relevant short stories, each with its own title and separate chapter. Leaton steers clear of a definite resolution, leaving readers to question whether the protagonist is insane or mystical. The story leans in one direction near the end before a crackerjack finish.
The narrator may be unreliable, but the stories she tells, as well as her own, are infinitely appealing.