Otto and Xavier, legally paired but not traditionally wed, receive a lavish not-honeymoon gift from a fabulously wealthy aunt: a trip on a strange and fabulous train. They don’t know where they are going, why they have been invited, or who is truly pulling the strings behind this event. They don’t know if the reclusive woman who lives full-time on the train (what a dream!) held up a sign that said “HELP” or “HELLO”, and they don’t know if they even really saw her to begin with!
Helen Oyeyemi writes whimsical mash-ups of fairy tale, mythology, and modern history. Her particular style of extremely practical yet still magical realism is catnip for me. I pre-ordered this book when it was first announced, then forgot that I had already pre-ordered and re-pre-ordered several weeks before it’s drop date because I am both impatient and disorganized. Great job, Cait! I’ve only been a rabid (and avid) fan since 2016; What is Not Yours is Not Yours hooked me right away, and I spent the next few months rushing through the back catalog before then waiting impatiently for Gingerbread in 2019. Gingerbread was a bit impenetrable – even for a fan- and I am pleased to report that Peaces is clearer, lighter, but still devastating none the less.
Peaces is a good place to dip a toe in if you are feeling Oyeyemi-curious; it’s short, funny, poignant, and wickedly clever. It’s populated with lovers, friends, mongooses (NOT mongeese, I learned), strangers who may or may not have faces, potentially magical traveling bazars, and a train that not only encourages but receives and responds to hate mail. If it’s not for you, I understand- and you will have only dedicated your attention to just over 200 pages. If it does hook you, and I truly hope it will, I recommend moving to What is Not Yours is Not Yours for some haunted and clever short stories before graduating to Mr. Fox and all of the delightful and disturbing insanity within.