Penguin Random House Audio. Mar. 2022. 8:10 hrs. ISBN 9780593632390. $17.50. SUSPENSE
Former child beauty pageant contestant Jessica Clink lives in a surreal world of 1990s true crime zeitgeist and 1950s Stepford Wives sensibilities. Using the strange education from her professor father, the cutthroat competitive instinct instilled by her mother and her pageant coach, and the sense of rebellious ennui modeled by her riot grrrl babysitter, she slowly begins to piece together the existence of a bizarre and hungry underworld of which she is unwittingly a part. She sets out to discover the truth and to simultaneously remake herself and take apart the program that ate her and many other women alive. Prose that might snarl a reader’s progress is neatly combed into order by Rebecca Lowman’s smooth, low-key narration, although the vocal fry might bug some listeners.
VERDICT Wuehle’s debut novel is a good fit for fans of Catherynne M. Valente and other literary-bent weird spec-fic.
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