cover image  Slights


Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . HarperCollins/Angry Robot, $7.99 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-00-732946-5

Warren’s debut is a promising launch for HarperCollins’s new Angry Robot imprint. Eighteen-year-old Stephanie “Stevie” Searle is more the center of consciousness than the protagonist, narrating as people and moments swirl around her. After a car crash kills her mother and leaves Stevie alone in the family home, the book primarily catalogues the memories that arise as she digs in the backyard, intending to plant jasmine, a smell she associates with dead bodies. Minutely detailed events and conversations are progressively undercut with singsong variations of “This is what should have happened.... This is what did happen.” In the sickening blur of Stevie’s narrative, what “really” happens is both uncertain and obvious; the details she commands so confidently are infinitely mutable, but the gruesome consequences slowly become apparent. With outstanding control, Warren manipulates Stevie’s voice to create a portrait of horror that in no way reads like a first novel. (Oct.)