Madame Zero

Custom House. Jul. 2017. 192p. ISBN 9780062657060. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062657084. F
A woman who morphs into a fox, a feral 12-year-old discovered out on the moors, a woman consumed by strange new appetites, and a world transformed by catastrophic windstorms are some of the bizarre themes in this collection. In "Mrs. Fox," a happily married couple is worried about the wife's sudden illness. What seems at first to be morning sickness turns into something far more sinister. While on a therapeutic walk in the woods, the husband is stunned to see his wife shed her skin, grow fur, and become a fox. The reverse of "Mrs. Fox" is "Case Study 2," in which an undernourished wild child is found wandering alone on the moors. Treatment attempts to humanize him prove extremely difficult. Mystery lies at the heart of "Evie" when a woman develops a voracious and unexplained appetite for food, alcohol, and raunchy sex. Finally, the entire world is rendered unrecognizable in "Later, His Ghost," a postapocalyptic tale about a man's risky search for provisions and books.
VERDICT Hall (How To Paint a Dead Man), a Granta Best of Young British Novelists, is not as well known as some of her contemporaries. She deserves a closer look for her beguiling collection. [See Prepub Alert, 2/13/17.]

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