The Uninvited GuestsThe Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

a rather odd book–a manse in danger of forced sale, a family of no accomplishments and weak ties, a train wreck, a birthday party, some indifferent invited guests, and a dark and stormy night.

this book feels rather like an account ledger that refuses to reconcile. all the necessary entries are there, but the transactions don’t make sense.

and the only way to explain that is to head into spoiler territory.

about a third of the way through the book, the decidedly sinister takes hold, and culminates in a game called “hinds and hounds.” in this game, one person is designated the hind, and the hounds have to cut the hind from the pack.

the pack here is the social pack, of course, and the way to cut someone from the pack is to insult them, to reveal something deadly, to do a little character assassination.

our dinner party edges into this game with some reluctance, but of course are baying and bloodthirsty by the end of it. the insults become more deadly and cruel. long-standing relationships are sundered; skeletons trotted out from closets (to my thinking, the skeletons are less killer than the insults, while it’s supposed to be the other way around).

and yet, even after taking a rusty machete to their social bonds, a couple of hours later two of the pairs have fallen in love, one pair has discovered the joy of sex, and one un-paired participant has learned to be a good mom.

wtf? did all that cruelty mean nothing?

so… this book doesn’t quite add up. but it’s an interesting read, a great premise. if i felt that the author had aimed at a popcorn book, i would give it a rave; but i suspect the story was meant as a serious attempt at litrachaa, and in that it falls short.

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