Published by Riverhead Books
Publication Date : March 8th, 2016
Available as Hardback & eBook – 325 Pages
Source : Library
The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?
I have mixed feelings on this one. I’ve never actually read any other Helen Oyeyemi, though I’ve heard many great things about her. The good things about her I’ve heard are very true, I think my mixed feelings stem either from the fact that maybe some of these stories just didn’t connect for me totally? There were one or two that I didn’t see the golden thread that connected them, that tied them up and made them a complete story. I was left going ‘And then what?’. It was possibly linked to my inability to tell characters apart. If I put the book down for any amount of time I had to review who was who – they all seemed to sound the same.
Those to gripes aside, and for the most part they are small, I loved the rest of this. When I saw that neat little thread that held the story together I loved it. When her stories worked for me, man they worked. The structure of them, the magical touches here and there. It was great. The stories all had just a tiny thread between them as well, repeating characters so I assume they are all set in the same world. By the end I had a rough idea of that world and it was a weird one, but a very interesting one. Oyeyemi created a unique and intriguing world for her stories and gave us the snapshots of lives within it. I really loved that.
The best story for me by far was “Is Your Blood as Red as This?”. The weird world of the puppets and puppeteers was at once super creepy and super intriguing. Puppets can be incredibly spooky, and they’re used that way all the time. Helen Oyeyemi made them magical – almost like chosen companions in a magical world. That was something that sent my mind running, definitely a favorite. The next best was “Sorry Doesn’t Sweeten her Tea”. That was more of a hard hitting story about the fall of a young girl’s musical idol and what is expected and what is received from individuals in the spotlight. I enjoyed the way that story shaped and evolved, especially the development of the young girls.
A good collection for me but with two gripes I’m not going to say it was my favorite. It has some absolutely amazing stories and twists to it though so I do recommend it for fans of short stories or if you’re familiar with Oyeyemi.