Eleanor has a crap life. But I immediately was drawn into her self-deprecating commentary, her often impolite bordering on straight-up offensive behavior, and her startlingly clear insights into herself and human nature (though these thoughts rarely stop her from making bad decisions). She is a great character.
This book definitely lives on the speculative side of the tracks, though I'm not sure I would classify it as horror. For me, it didn't hit that point of creeping dread or terror that I reserve for horror novels. Instead it stays on the humorous side and slips into the weird with potentially a bit supernatural.
I am not quite sure how to interpret this book, and that's something I like about it. The book is set up as though you are reading Eleanor's private blog entries, and at the beginning they seem fairly normal, but as the book progresses and strangeness ensues, I wasn't quite sure if what was going on was what was really happening, if Eleanor was beginning to break away from reality, or if it was something more supernatural altogether.
Holding the reader suspended like this is one of my favorite techniques in fiction and I thought it was done superbly here, with a slow descent into the weirdness that, like the frog in water that's beginning to boil, you aren't fully cognizant what's happening of until it's scalding your skin.
The book is definitely a rumination on cancer, personal (and/or real) demons, expectations, and the paths our choices take us down. It has something of an allegorical feel to it, but I can't quite put my finger on what it all means. It is one I will be contemplating for a while!
Mostly I was just along for the ride. Eleanor is such a unique and interesting voice, and the narrative of the weird and creepy small town of Talbingo kept me involved and wanting to know what was coming next. This story won't give you all the answers and it definitely doesn't stick to a paint-by-numbers sort of narrative. You won't find conclusive endings here but you will find something completely worth reading.
Thank you to FSGxMCD for my copy of this one to read and review.
Assistant editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.