Witty, stylish, page-turning and very finely written. Fowler takes a startling subject and creates deeply-felt characters as well as a shocking twist in the middle of the book. The disturbing lives of the Cookes family consists of a pedantic psychologist father who specializes in animal behavior, an emotionally fragile mother and three children: Lowell, Rosemary and Fern.
One daughter mysteriously vanishes, the other changes from a prodigiously talkative child to a silent adult; the brother runs away. And beneath the basic plotline lies a story as fantastic, terrible and beautiful as any Grimm's fairy tale.
This unconventional, dysfunctional family can't be too autobiographical, but Bloomington, Indiana where they live in the novel is also where Fowler spent the first 11 years of her life.
I found the ending didn't live up to the promise of the rest of the book, but that may be because I wanted it to be fairytale, and in reality, that woulnd't have been fair, right or very convincing.