the furies (a.k.a. the amber fury) by natalie haynes
My goodness, I've seen some harsh reviews out there for this novel.
Some say that it's far too predictable. I'd say that it appears to be so predictable because the who-does-it question isn't really so much the point of the novel. Granted, I recognized the identity of the Fury so early on - and you will, too, I assure you - that I thought there would be some sort of twist in that identification, but there wasn't. So when I saw these criticisms, they gave me pause to consider and I don't think there was ever really an intended mystery as to this element of the novel.
When St. Martin's Press offered The Furies up for early review, the synopsis was tailor-made for me. A mysteriously unrevealed death that happens before the opening scene, a creepy, moldy, violent schoolroom in the basement of an Edinburgh building, obsessions, secrets.
And I wasn't disappointed. I suppose if I felt the point of the book was the reveal of who commits the crime at the end, or if I was hoping for another Secret History, I might have been disappointed. But as it was, I enjoyed The Furies very much.
Although I read an advance reviewer's copy for the U.S., with the cover and title to the left, here, I was actually quite put off by the cover. Seems a bit too bright and cheery for Edinburgh, for this novel. It just doesn't convey the way the novel felt to me.
The cover and title, above, however, felt much more appropriate to the story (and I simply like the aesthetic better, as well). (The next sentence may be a minor spoiler....) The entire title, The Amber Fury, is much better suited to the novel, both with Amber, and also Fury (singular); Fury being a Greek mythological female spirit of justice and vengeance, known especially for pursing people who had murdered family members.
I loved the way Haynes incorporated the Greek myths and trilogies in the story and found the discussions about them with the students to be interesting and considered.
I related deeply to her representation of grief. I adored the way she characterized the lawyer, Lisa Meyer.
"Arthritis won't kill you, it only makes you weaker. What if grief works the same way?"
"If I could go back in time, I wouldn't do any of it. I'd just stand next to Luke every fucking second and when anything bad looked like it might happen to him, I'd get in the fucking way and I would keep him safe. And when people asked me what I did for a living, I'd say I loved him."
"But the corners were already peeling up from the bottom of each picture, as though the room were trying to rid itself of any signs of life."
"...I just said goodbye to her, awkwardly, giving her a small wave, because somehow goodbyes demand that we do something with our hands."
After reading this last line, I found myself trying to imagine saying goodbye to a friend in real life and not utilizing my hands, and it was difficult.
So... much of my reading life is experienced while waiting for the next Tana French. Don't get me wrong; I have other authors I just love and can't wait for their next book, but Tana French is the reigning queen for me. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader's copy of her newest book, The Secret Place, released next week (September 2, 2014). I must say that I was very tempted to drop everything else and just start Secret Place the moment it fell into my sweaty, greedy little hands, which would have included walking away from this book. But I liked this book very much, and I stayed with it, and was rewarded for doing so.
I related to the protagonist and appreciated the way she saw the world. Edinburgh was nicely represented, the teenagers seemed believable. What a promising debut!