I’m in pieces about this book! I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I am a huge fan of Helen Oyeyemi, a fantastical British writer who is utterly singular. One of her earlier books of short stories, What is Not Yours is Yours, is a book I revisit often and is one of my absolute favourites.
I adored Gingerbread as well, a magical tale of three generations of women and a priceless gingerbread recipe. Oyeyemi has an unbelievable style and vision in creating the most absurd, touching, and uncanny tales very much influenced by elements of magical realism, folklore, and fairy tales. Her work is funny, atmospheric, and incredibly thought provoking.
I highly recommend checking her out if you’ve liked books by authors like Shirley Jackson (although her work is not quite as terrifying as Shirley’s, it can be eerie), Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Karen Russell, but Oyeyemi is absolutely a class of her own.
Peaces, Oyeyemi’s latest novel, is like Snowpiercer – except instead of biting social commentary on class and race in director Bong Joon-Ho’s usual style, Peaces follows a delightful newlywed couple, Otto and Xavier, and their pet mongoose on a pseudo honeymoon gifted to them by Xavier’s delightfully kooky aunt and parent-figure, on a bizarre sleeper train called The Lucky Day, where the destination is unclear and they seem to be the only passengers.
Otto and Xavier are smitten with each other, and their chemistry and banter is charming. The motion of the plot feels almost like a train on a circular track at times – stopping, starting, chugging along. The sense of place is strong, but it’s never overly confusing. At the crux of this novel, like many of Oyeyemi’s other work, is an examination on perception in relationships of all kinds: familial, romantic, platonic, and random chance encounters.
I highly recommend this novel, and her others if you’re looking for a bit of an escape!
— Jackie M.