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Monica Recommends - Dispatch #4

 

Bunny by Mona Awad

Samantha Heather Mackey, our main character and deeply unreliable narrator, attends a highly selective MFA program at an exclusive university where she prefers her own company to that of her fellow students and abhors the four other girls in her English cohort, "a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other "Bunny," and seem to move and speak as one".

This all changes when Samantha receives an invitation that brings her to their front door and plunges Samantha into a world that is as disorienting and isolating as any cult, pushing her away from her only friend in the process. What begins as a very straightforward-seeming fiction quickly delves into an unsettling, cryptic horror that touches on elements of magical realism and fantasy within the narrator's imaginings.

The frustration of trying to pursue writing in higher education, the isolation created by one's internal monologue, the uncanny, unsure line between daydreaming and reality, the susceptibility to outside forces, all of these felt very visceral, real, well-done. Samantha's character is, in part, a big reason why I enjoyed reading this work so much. If you like a good unreliable narrator work, as I said before, this is one of the best I've read in a long while.

In an effort to keep this spoiler free I won't elaborate on what exactly I loved about the ending, but I will say that aside from Samantha, the other characters in this strange entourage were equally compelling; I was inexplicably drawn to all of them and to where their stories would lead.

I raced through this book in two days, and never had a moment of boredom, confusion (at least not to the level of hampering the reading experience), or slow pacing. While this reads very easily, it's also apparent in its content that Awad possesses great skill and doesn't feel the need to be overly showy with her work in order to prove it.

I also really, truly loved the inherent queerness in this book even as it wasn't explicitly defined. I've definitely outgrown "queerness as the internal struggle" narratives and prefer a good "this just /feels/ queer" type of novel instead, and Bunny delivered.

Overall, I highly recommend this work as a quick and compelling read of horror fiction, especially for anyone that enjoyed Plain Bad Heroines but needed a little bit less of a slow-burn horror.

If you're still not sure, here's a playlist that follows the rise and fall of the narrative, by yours truly!

Paperback $17