Real people live their lives here. They wrestle with familiar instincts, with sex and desire, with everyday routine. But the wild is always close at hand, ready to erupt. This is a place where animals and people commingle and fuse, where curious metamorphoses take place, where myth and dark magic still linger. So here a teenager may starve herself into the shape of an eel. A house might fall in love with a girl. A woman might give birth to a – well what?
Daisy Johnson’s book came to me by chance. I retweeted a contest, didn’t know what books to say I liked, and was given a surprise bundle. The moment I read the blurb, I knew I had to read it. So I’ve been dipping in and out. Female protagonists each find themselves rooted in a British landscape that’s familiar, but surrounded by a world that isn’t.
From absorbing personalities of prey, to a house that – as the blurb suggests – might fall in love with a girl, there’s a dark magic that touches her stories. After writing this, I’m going back to re-read Languages before moving onto the next book, because I think it’s possibly my favourite thing I’ve read this year. Such a striking story.
Fen is on one hand ordinary. There’s sex, pubs, marriage. But within that, she weaves tales of magic and darkness, of inexplicable things, underpinned with something you understand. A longing, a need, that’s ordinary, but works with the otherworldly.
tl;dr. I really bloody like this collection.
2nd June 2016 | Jonathan Cape