Mini Reviews: Force of Nature by Jane Harper and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

As usual my reading pace is way ahead of my blog posting, so here are some quick mini reviews as I try to catch up!

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #2.) A solid, enjoyable, page-turning 9182oC-vCTLmystery. Federal Agent Aaron Falk and his partner Carmen are investigating money laundering when their informant goes missing in the Australian bush on a company-sponsored wilderness retreat. As she did in her debut, The Dry, Harper excels at atmosphere, with the dense mountain foliage and isolation of the setting practically becoming a character in the novel itself. I like that we get a little more of a glimpse into Aaron Falk’s past, specifically more of a focus on his fraught relationship with his late father. But there is still a lot to learn about Falk, and I’m still curious. I also think the light glimmer of a spark with his partner is intriguing. The specifics of the mystery plot are well-written, although perhaps one might have to suspend one’s disbelief a bit to buy the circumstances in which the woman goes missing. If you can do that, you will enjoy the second in this series. I look forward to the next one! Four Stars.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. How to describe this weird, magical book? I read this in earlyMr-Fox-Helen-Oyeyemi-Penguin April for my book group, although we were just able to meet last weekend to discuss. We all loved it. A riff on the Bluebeard fairy tale, if I had to summarize it briefly I’d say that Mr. Fox, an author, and his muse, the fictional (or is she?) Mary, write stories back and forth to one another. Mary wants Mr. Fox to stop writing misogynistic stories about women. Mr. Fox’s real-life wife, Daphne, is jealous of Mary and despairs about her marriage until she, too, begins writing herself into the story. I think that this book is about two things: the role of women in fiction and the challenges of vulnerable and equal romantic relationships. I’m not sure which one Oyeyemi is really emphasizing. But what resonated with me more was the love story between Mr. Fox and Daphne, and I have to say that the end left me with hope. This is one of those books that still perplexes me and challenges me, and I’d like to reread it again someday and try to puzzle it out some more. Four-and-a-half Stars.

Have you read either of these? Do they pique your interest?



35 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Force of Nature by Jane Harper and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

  1. Mr. Fox sounds really intriguing! Is Mr. Fox animal or human? This question might be influenced by the cover, but “weird and magical” made me think of an animal fox with a human wife named Daphne. Clearly, this book and your description have caught my imagination!

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  2. I have been meaning to read Jane Harper’s books especially Dry but yet to get a chance. Glad to hear that you enjoyed Force of Nature.Mr. Fox sounds like a great book club read. Wonderful reviews, Laila.

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  3. I know I’ve said this before, but I just have to say that I love mini-reviews! They’re less pressure to write AND easier to read. Thank you! Anyway, you’ve convinced me to give The Dry another try, since I DNF it during a picky reading slump and I’ve seen you mention how much you liked it several times.

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    1. I love mini-reviews too! They’ve saved my blog more times than I can count, when I’m in a “I don’t want to write about books” mood. I hope you enjoy The Dry if you try it again but I can see how some might now like it. It’s more exposition-y than plotty in a lot of places. Good luck!


  4. I was mildly annoyed and not very interested in Mr. Fox, mostly not interested in how everything revolved around him. Might have just been the wrong book at the wrong time.

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  5. I love Helen Oyeyemi! Mr. Fox was the first of her books that I knew about before it came out — so the first one of hers that I anticipated! — and it’s such a weird, playful book. I need to revisit it! I always say that my faves of hers are White Is for Witching and Boy Snow Bird, but I think Mr. Fox is worth a reread soon.

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    1. I remember your review about Force of Nature and it did give me pause about the whole company retreat thing. Surely they would have had more safety measures in place?! But I just went with it. 🙂 Mr. Fox IS weird and wonderful!

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  6. Mr. Fox sounds interesting to me; I like metafiction. The plot reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a man has a wife who is convinced he is cheating on her. It turns out, all the people in his world come to life because he writes about them. When he destroys the pages, the person disappears.

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  7. I liked Harper’s first one Dry – though it’s not as fast as a thriller. I’d like to get to the 2nd one and I’m glad you liked it. The Mr. Fox novel sounds like it has quite a creative plotline. Wow, food for thought!

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  8. Yes, Oyeyemi!! Another author whose backlist I’ve been meaning to get through! I think I have two of her’s on my shelf actually, so about time 😀 Which one’s your fave so far? Happy reading in May!

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  9. I’m glad Force of Nature kept you engaged and reading. I find book 2 is often a more challenging book than book 1 in a newer series. I assume you’ll keep reading these books as Harper writes more?

    Okay. What? That review of Mr. Fox is puzzling, too! I am certainly intrigued… this sounds like the sort of book you need to discuss with someone to understand. I know you’ve read some of Oyeyemi’s works before. If I wanted to read her works, should I start here or elsewhere?

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    1. Oh yes, I’ll definitely be excited to read book three in the Harper series!

      I’d start with White is For Witching, it’s weird also but more accessible than Mr. Fox. I also read Boy, Snow, Bird was it was my least favorite of the three I’ve read. I know, I had no clue how to write about Mr. Fox! Even our book group discussion didn’t seem to come up with many concrete answers. So much is left up to interpretation. Oyeyemi is such a creative writer and thinker.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve added White is for Witching to my TBR. But I think I’ll wait until my most debate-focused book club is ready to pick new books and suggest it then. Oyeyemi’s works sound like they could really benefit from a discussion. Thanks for the recommendation!~

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