cover image The Fish

The Fish

Joanne Stubbs. Fairlight, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-914148-19-4

Stubbs’s terrifying and believable debut envisions a global catastrophe through the eyes of three disparate characters: Cathy, a dressmaker from Cornwall, England; Margaret, a devoutly Christian American expat living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Ricky, a teenager from Claremouth, South Island, Australia. Bacteria cause infected fish to suddenly emerge from Earth’s coastal waters able to breathe air and walk on land, sparking first curiosity then worldwide panic. Vividly detailed struggles in the protagonists’ personal lives intertwine with the slowly escalating danger posed by the fish. Cathy battles feelings of inadequacy and helplessness as her scientist wife, Ephie, leads research into the phenomenon; Margaret feels increasingly estranged from her husband, her church friends, and God as the afflicted fish increase in number; Ricky supports his best friend, Kyle, through Kyle’s parents’ divorce—right up until Kyle’s estranged father is badly injured by an afflicted fish. Stubbs skillfully captures the tension and uncertainty of living under a slowly unfolding disaster and the pressure it puts on relationships on the way to a masterful, bittersweet ending. Readers are sure to be drawn into this page-turning speculative tragedy. (Oct.)