cover image The Harpy

The Harpy

Megan Hunter. Grove, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4816-2

An unquenchable thirst for revenge drives Lucy, a wife and mother, to the brink of madness in Hunter’s sleek, supernatural thriller (after The End We Start From). Things begin as Lucy makes a consensual razor cut on husband Jake’s thigh. The story then flashes back to a phone call from Lucy’s acquaintance David Holmes, who says Jake is having an affair with his wife, Vanessa, who works with Jake. Short italicized sections charting Lucy’s obsession with, and evolution into, the mythical half-bird harpy creature alternate with a tightly controlled chronological narrative. Jake tearfully declares he will end the affair, but he doesn’t, while Lucy grows passive, observing how their relationship has become “a series of non-communications” and fights. A détente is reached by Lucy and Jake in a mutual desire to protect their sons, and eventually Jake reignites the couple’s sexual relationship. When David asks Lucy to persuade Jake to seek another job, she cuts David off abruptly, unable to share that she’s designed her own course of punishment for Jake. Shortly after, Lucy catches Jake in a lie, which propels the novel to its dark conclusion. Lucy’s narration is irresistible, though the harpy sections, which suggest Lucy is physically transforming, are underdeveloped by comparison. Hunter maintains suspense until the final act of her satisfactory tale. Agent: Emma Paterson, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Nov.)