Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: November 27, 2018
Caroline Hulse’s novel is a dark comedy that had me laughing out loud more than once. Imagine the dysfunctional dynamics between divorced parents with a seven-year-old daughter. Both parents now have new live-in-partners. Now imagine all four adults (two who have never even met each other) going on a Christmas holiday together. The idea is that the little girl can spend Christmas day with both of her parents. Good intentions, but even in theory, it sounds like a disastrous plan. So, what exactly did go wrong? Well, for starters the book opens with an emergency phone call because one of them has been shot with an arrow. This is how you will meet “The Adults,” which is a clever debut novel about a blended family vacation.
You will need to read the book to learn who was shot and if he/she survives. But, I can tell you that the group rents a lodge in a Christmas themed village. The place is geared towards families with young children. There are many fun activities. Make that forced fun for the unhappy adults. Hulse’s writing is razor sharp, especially around the child’s imaginary rabbit friend that never leaves her side. Many of the activities must be canceled because they don’t make safety helmets with ear holes for a rabbit. You can visualize where this is headed. The story is filled with rabbit tongue in cheek subplots. When her dad’s girlfriend kills a pheasant (to put it out of its misery while dying) the girl is convinced her imaginary playmate will be the next murdered animal. This sets up all sorts of satirical scenes. Think of the movie “Harvey,” and throw in a tad of “Watership Down.”
I enjoyed the author’s array of writing styles. In-between the narrations by the five, (or six if you count the rabbit), you will also read police interviews as well as most of the village’s brochure. It is a prose that is similar to, “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” but on silly pills. Is this just another family Christmas novel? Nope. This is a snappy, not sappy, holiday book that will be on sale in time for Christmas. I would buy it as a gift just for the annoying singing Christmas trees alone.
I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
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