Author: Eleanor Wasserberg
Expected Publication: June 2nd, 2016
Genres: Adult Fiction
Source: HCC First Look/Harper Collins Canada
A compulsive and chilling debut about a girl growing up in a cult
We were the Family, and Foxlowe was our home.
There was me – my name is Green – and my little sister, Blue. There was October, who we called Toby, and Ellensia, Dylan, Liberty, Pet and Egg. There was Richard, of course, who was one of the Founders. And there was Freya.
We were the Family, but we weren’t just an ordinary family. We were a new, better kind of family.
We didn’t need to go to school, because we had a new, better kind of education. We shared everything. We were close to the ancient way of living and the ancient landscape. We knew the moors, and the standing stones. We celebrated the solstice in the correct way, with honey and fruit and garlands of fresh flowers. We knew the Bad and we knew how to keep it away.
And we had Foxlowe, our home. Where we were free.
There really was no reason for anyone to want to leave.
Foxlowe is a compelling, dark tale that will leave you feeling either sympathetic, or horrified. It’s about a group of people living in a secluded place, in an ancient way, making sure to keep The Bad out. Anywhere that isn’t Foxlowe is called “The Outside”, and if by chance The Bad catches you, you do the Spike Walk or wait until the Solstice to take it out.
The writing is brilliant. The story is told from Green’s point of view, and we can so clearly hear her naivety, her yearning and her manipulation of herself that it is almost impossible not to feel bad for her or to connect to her in some way. She’s a poor misguided soul, yearning for love and tricking herself to think she actually has it in a good way. All the horrible things that happen to her and Blue are remembered in a good way, twisted until it seems right and normal. It’s such a dark, twisted story that seems light and maybe even happy because it’s told from a child’s view who can’t fully understand the horror and pain of it all! The author effectively makes you see the horror, and expertly covers it up with games and misguided joy.
The plot is well written. At first you have hope for the story. You see some of the bad, but you think maybe it’ll be the typical dystopian type setting, where the main character sees all the wrong and rebels. But it’s not. The main character is one of the most fiercely protective of the Family, and she wouldn’t dare rebel, even if it means outing her friends. It keeps you on your toes, wondering if the ones who do see the wrong can make Green see the truth, can get her on their side. The best part of all though, is that the author is not shy about abuse, horrific situations, or even ptsd. She takes it all in stride, gives us all the gritty, dark, raw details, and gives it to us in twists and on every page!
I will admit, however, that I skimmed a bit of the part entitled “Jess”. I like it well enough, it was a great experience to found out how Jess acts in the real world, without anyone to hurt her or shove opinions on her. Unfortunately, it got a bit repetitive in what Jess liked to do in her spare time, and so I skimmed. I also found Mel to be overbearing and constrictive, putting Jess in another closed environment, hardly better than Foxlowe was. Which is why it was so easy to understand why Jess wasn’t getting better, only worse. It makes you feel bad for Jess, and you have this kind of sad hope for her, though you know it’ll probably never be okay for her, given all she went through and all that she did.
The relationships between characters are well written. Blue and Green had a great sisterly bond, but at the same time, the tensions and moments when Green lost her cool were some of the best. We got more insight on them in those moments, how psychologically Green was not okay, and how Blue was fighting to get Green to see it. Toby fought too, though he seemed a bit more lenient, more secretive about his true thoughts to her. I wish the romance worked out, but at the same time I could never really see it happening, which proves how much the author’s writing effected me; it was that good.
The atmosphere is dark, but the mood is light, a contrast that makes the book seem more of a happy tale than it really is. It tricks you into thinking everything will be okay, and maybe it will be. But you still find yourself wondering how badly misguided someone has to be to see all the bad as good and right and just. Again, you feel bad for Green though, because she unfortunately knows nothing else.
Overall, Foxlowe is a chilling tale that compels you to keep reading, and hides all the horror with a child’s voice. A horrifying, dark read turned light and happy and twisted by a naive child.