Something strange happens to you when you cross that threshold from ‘woman’ to ‘mother’. Time becomes elastic, thoughts become deafening, nights fill with waking while days fill with sleep, and sleep becomes an endless battle. There is a loneliness felt deep in your bones when you’re awake and feeding your young at 3am, the world around you still and quiet. It’s a moment in time that is hard to touch with stories and fiction. Brief yet endless. My son is now four and his baby and toddlerhood feel long ago…. yet within pages of beginning this novel, Nightbitch folded my years back and brought those days (and long long nights) rushing back into focus.
Nightbitch centres on the Mother, a woman who has given up her enriching art career to raise her son while her husband travels for work each week. He earns more, so it’s a logical decision. Yet she is lonely, depressed, guilt-ridden and isolated. When she begins to feel hair growing on her neck in a little patch, her husband dismisses her concerns. When her canines lengthen and sharpen, she becomes alarmed and searches for answers. She finds the writings of Wanda White, an academic who published her otherworldly studies on transformative women with sincerity. The Mother finds solace in her writings but not answers for what is happening to her.
With each offhanded critique by her husband about the messy house or the Mother’s child rearing methods, the Mother stews in righteous anger. She dreads the coming of each night, as the battle to get her son to sleep drags on. Her anger intensifies and deepens into a blood rage and, in time, the Mother is entirely transformed.
Nightbitch was a difficult read – not because the story is long or complex, but because the feminist rage within is so real and so warranted. Reading it felt like touching an open flame, the emotions are raw and real. This is Kafka meets The Female Eunuch, and it opened a chasm within me that I didn’t know was still there.
I give it 5 snapped bunny necks out of 5, because any book that can make me feel so much is a wonder. But read it with caution, as it might lead you to find a little Nightbitch within yourself, too…