mini review: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Doubleday!)

Summary: One day, the mother was a mother but then, one night, she was quite suddenly something else…

At home full-time with her two-year-old son, an artist finds she is struggling. She is lonely and exhausted. She had imagined – what was it she had imagined? Her husband, always travelling for his work, calls her from faraway hotel rooms. One more toddler bedtime, and she fears she might lose her mind.

Instead, quite suddenly, she starts gaining things, surprising things that happen one night when her child will not sleep. Sharper canines. Strange new patches of hair. New appetites, new instincts. And from deep within herself, a new voice…

“One day, the mother was a mother, but then, one night, she was quite suddenly something else.”

And thus begins a strange, surreal little novel that’s been making waves throughout the book community this past month, for better or worse. A woman, known only throughout the novel as the mother (& later, Nightbitch – a word I’ve been typing so frequently my phone now recognizes it), once held her dream job as an artist in a gallery and had a fantastic husband. Then the son arrived and with him, the mother’s dream life took a backseat. Being a working mother – toting an infant around a late night gallery showing was untenable in the long run – wasn’t in the cards and the decision was made for her to stay home and raise the child while her husband, also unnamed, bounced from hotel to hotel each week earning a sizable paycheck.

Resentment gave way to anger and rage and on the night in question, when the mother became something else, she discovered her more animalistic nature began to take over. She could have sworn her teeth were sharpening. Those pink little buds lining her torso? The husband would wave them away as moles, but the woman knew better. There were times she even felt the little wag of a long forgotten appendage. Clearly she was becoming a dog.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this book other than it’s definitely something. There will be people who love it and people who hate it, those who can peel away the layers of some deeper symbolism while others are just bewildered – though I think we’re all in agreement that MLMs are cults.

There were moments where I genuinely enjoyed this book and raced through scenes, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that this novel, in total less than 260 pages, took me three days to read. I’m glad I experienced this though I can’t see myself ever returning.

Also, major warning for very graphic depictions of animal cruelty and death.

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