cover image Peaces


Helen Oyeyemi. Riverhead, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-19233-7

Curious characters, strange events, and mysteries abound in Oyeyemi’s delightfully bonkers latest (after Gingerbread). After hypnotist Otto Shin takes the surname of his boyfriend, Xavier, the couple, both 38, celebrate their “non-honeymoon honeymoon” with a train trip arranged for them by Xavier’s aunt and with help from a young man named Yuri who inexplicably claims to know them. Accompanied by their pet mongoose, Árpád XXX, Otto and Xavier begin their journey to a destination unknown to them and soon meet the train’s operators and its enigmatic owner, Ava Kapoor, who is about to come into a grand inheritance. But Ava’s bequest is threatened by the appearance of a mysterious passenger, one they will all soon recognize as part of their respective pasts, and the trip becomes stressful for the couple as Yuri’s interventions in their lives grow suspicious. Though capped by a somewhat disjointed and confusing finale, the narrative is bolstered by its underlying blend of humor and suspense, as well as Oyeyemi’s ability to skillfully thread together the lives of her characters and show how they’ve been shaped into the people they are today. Despite its problems, this exciting and inventive novel brims with unusual insights. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency (Apr.)