A surrealist tale of love, heartbreak, and being haunted by the past.


Two lovers embark on a train journey that forces them to confront who they are to one another—and who they were before ever meeting.

Otto and Xavier Shin board the sleeper train The Lucky Day and set off on "the Lakes and Mountains Route" for their "non-honeymoon honeymoon." As they explore The Lucky Day's magnificently arrayed carriages, Xavier notices their host, the mysterious Ava Kapoor, brandishing a sign that says "Hello"—or is it "Help?"—from the adjoining car. One mystery leads to another, and Otto and Xavier must unravel Ava Kapoor's story if they are to understand their relationship to the past they've hidden from one another. At the heart of the novel is a dispute over an inheritance—which turns out to be a dispute over reality. Is Ava Kapoor the rightful heir to Karel Stojaspal's fortune, or does his son Přemysl actually exist to dispute the estate? Oyeyemi imbues Otto and Xavier's journey with her familiar flair for the fantastic, from wily pet mongooses to trainwide bazaars to men with hazy faces. Yet, as Oyeyemi once again pushes the boundaries of the novel, each of the spaces, times, and characters here are as loose, fragmentary, and un-pin-down-able as the man Otto is unable to see. Like interlinking train carriages, Otto's past leads to Ava Kapoor's, and Xavier's leads to yet another passenger's. Combined, the stories confirm the existence of Přem but raise questions about what it means to be understood by the people who love and know you best. "You run the romantic gauntlet for decades without knowing who exactly it is you're giving and taking such a battering in order to reach," Otto writes early in the novel. "And then, by some stroke of fortune, the gauntlet concludes, the person does exist after all."

A surrealist tale of love, heartbreak, and being haunted by the past.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19233-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020


Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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