The Parliament

Tor.com. Jan. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781250820976. $28.99. FANTASY
Pokwatka (Self-Portrait with Nothing) tucks a Maurice Sendak fairy tale into a nature-attacks horror novel when she traps chemist Madigan Purdy in a library with a group of tweens. Purdy developed a host of coping mechanisms to deal with the long-ago death of a friend—from reading survival guides to juggling to emotional unavailability. But even that trauma is unable to prepare her for a flock of tiny, ravenous owls that will deflesh a human in minutes if they step through the library doors. The group’s main source of comfort is Purdy’s favorite childhood novel, which they read between frantic attempts to establish communication with the rest of town. It’s a charming book, but with the stilted feel of classic children’s storybooks. This allows the children to thoughtfully, if sometimes angrily, critique it, which keeps the analytical parts of their minds sparking, demonstrating that the fiction shelves are just as vital to their survival as the library’s nonfiction resources.
VERDICT Must-read fantasy for readers who appreciate the catharsis of horror; perfect for fans of Whalefall by Daniel Kraus and Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison.
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