A confusing but sometimes enchanting story that’ll leave you lost in the end, The Rabbit Back Literature Society is good but not great.
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Literary Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books)
Publication Date: January 20, 2015 (US publication – first published in 2006)
352 pages, hardcover
Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.
NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for letting me read this.
What first drew me to this book was that absolutely gorgeous cover. Obviously. Then my friend Jo over at Drifting Pages bought it. Then I saw it on Netgalley and just had to read it. It has such an interesting concept. The Rabbit Back Literature Society was…good. Not great, but good. It’s well-written for the most part. The magical realism was really cool but also very strange, which I should have expected. However, it didn’t do anything. It didn’t go anywhere, which was really disappointing.
The thing that really disappointed me was the “mystery”. I like when books don’t answer all of your questions, leave you to figure out what you think happened. But I like when they answer SOME of them. One, even. There was little to no resolution for what was the biggest mystery in the whole book – the disappearance of Laura White. We do get resolution for one of the other mysteries, and I thought it was sweet and simple and wonderful, but we had NONE for the main mystery. It felt a little like I’d wasted my time.
The violence was also strange. I’m not sure if this is in part due to the fact that it’s been translated, but the authors of the society play “The Game” in which they can invoke a rule that allows them to hurt the other to get them to tell the truth. It was weird. There’s also one scene (only a few pages) that talks about an act of sexual violence that was seriously disturbing. I had to put the book down for a while.
I enjoyed the mysticism and magical realism, and most of the writing was interesting enough to keep me going. But feeling like you’ve part of the point when you finish is not something I like. Not bad but not great either.
The bottom line: I never really figured out what was happening or why I was reading about it. I will say that the book will push you violently out of your comfort zone, which I appreciated, and the magical realism was interesting and enchanting. I haven’t said much about the plot because 1. I’m not sure what the point was, and 2. I’m not sure there was supposed to be a point. If you like magical realism and translation, read this. But if you need things to be wrapped up, you’ll go insane at the end. Basically, read The Rabbit Back Literature Society at your own risk.
Rating: 6 – good, but not great