Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2021
Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Gore, body horror, violence against animals (the cat dies)
A mother lives with her toddler and engineer husband. One day, hair like fur starts showing up on her body and the story only gets weirder and more visceral from there. She’s trying to reconcile who she is as a mother in contrast to herself as an artist in contrast to society’s expectations of both.
This book is intense with an energy that made it so, so, so hard to look away until the curtain falls on a performance art piece that imitates life and the mythology woven throughout.
The prose cuts and bites like the feral animal it’s trying to emulate. You’re never quite sure what’s going on in the reality of the mother. She’s an unreliable and unlikeable narrator, which is perfect for a book which looks into motherhood as its own kind of horror. The wrangling of control over the strange animalistic tendencies meshes well with the introspection and nigh stream-of-consciousness. There are events, but there isn’t an easily mapped plot. Which makes for an unsettling read that’s at the same time, strangely relatable.
I mention this book is visceral, and the body horror is both extremely quotidian and something plucked out of a werewolf novel. The way the physical transformation (whether it’s real or not) mirrors the inner turmoil of the mother is so effective. If you like pets and woodland critters, you will dislike this book; most of them meet a grisly end and the details are glorious.
There’s also a self-awareness that really worked for me. The mother allows herself to indulge in her first-world complaints while also recognizing that these things do bother her. Yoder does a great job presenting many of the trials and tribulations of modern motherhood, with the woman the mother could have been almost serving as its own antagonist. Nightbitch exists in opposition to both the mother and the artist. It is fascinating to watch.
This book grabbed me by the neck with its maw and didn’t let go until the very end where life imitated art.