Publication date: June 7th, 2022 Goodreads T he skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard. Freshly divorced and griev...

Review || Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret


Publication date: June 7th, 2022


The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldy growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.


Read now

 

Tiffany Mueret came onto my radar thanks to A Flood of Posies, a very strange but disorienting novel about two sisters, a flooded world, and the creatures that lie beneath the waters. It was definitely an experience but while mesmeric, it's one of those that you aren't sure if it's happening in the characters head or if it's really happening.. I felt that exact same way while reading Little Bird

To start with, Mueret undoubtedly writes substantial characters. As with A Flood of Posies, her main character is a complicated woman with complex emotions.  In this case, Josie Lauer is grieving after the death of her father and the end of her marriage. She sequesters herself inside her house with only her dog, Po, for company and seeks to drown herself each night in copious amounts of vodka so she doesn't have to face her grief. She's crotchety and unsociable, with her only interactions being by email for the company she runs, which ironically is teaching companies how to communicate effectively to solve problems with their clients. Being in customer service myself, I can certainly understand the duality of being "on" professionally and hating people in private. That sounds horrid but anyone front-facing in their jobs understands, so I completely get Josie.  

One day, what Josie thinks is a weed pops up in her backyard. Shortly thereafter, a new neighbor appears; a very assertive and cheerfully demanding neighbor, who doesn't get that Josie just wants to be left alone. Then up shoots Skelly, a philosophical sentient skeleton sitting on throne made of vines in the backyard. Suddenly, Josie is no longer alone and can't shut everyone out. 

While the interactions of Skelly the skeleton and Josie are unquestionably interesting and oftimes humourous, I kept waiting for something additional to happen. The majority of the book is spent with Skelly and Josie in conversation or Josie in her on head. While I had expectations at first, I wouldn't say it is horror. There's an assuredly supernatural aspect to it but I'd still file it somewhere under dark fantasy or magical realism than horror. There's nothing inherently scary about it—even the skeleton is described as a Halloween decoration or toy. It's about grief, tough emotions, and having to  and sometimes those can be scary enough.