Someone you can build a nest in by John Wiswell

I have been waiting for this book since I read the interview in the Locus Magazine a few months ago. 


The Locus Review also sounded promising, so I pre-ordered the book and read it within a few days.


Main character is Shesheshen, a shapeshifting monster. From time to time, it has to eat humans. And once in a lifetime, it should lay eggs in a human. Like her mother did with her Dad. 


Shesheshen hibernates each year, but this time, she gets disturbed and has to fight against three men who want her blood and her heart (she has neither, by the way). Shesheshen is badly injured and a human woman, Homily, finds her and takes care of her. Shesheshen fancies Homily, who is really someone you can build a nest in. But it would not be polite not to ask, would it?

"A rare person like Homily deserved to be informed before her body was turned into a nest."


Later, Shesheshen learns that Homily is also on the hunt for the monster - and one of the monster-hunters from the first chapter was her brother (the hunt did not go so well for him). Plus. Homily's mother and sisters aren't without complexities. 


The plot has indeed much to offer, as has the perspective, which is not human, as I am reminded of often while reading. Sometimes, Sheshesen indeed seems to be more human than some humans within the story. Nevertheless, some thoughts about human habits and behavior are just hilarious.


For instance, what's the thing about gold? "It wasn't holy, it was terribly heavy and is one of the softest metals".


Or her descriptions: "He had the chest of a man who exercised for sport, which made for pleasant chewing."


I really like the ending and the premise of the story. I am well aware that I might have read the ending not as the author intended. For me, the novel is about family.


There might be a family which you were born into, which is not necessarily nice to you or good for you. Which might torture you. 

There might be a family, another one, the chosen one. Which is not necessarily good for you always, but in summary, it is, if you can make it work. In spite of all the difficulties.


I am well aware that my own kids are no monsters and will probably not eat me (or want to lay eggs into my body). Nevertheless, it's important for me to set boundaries, to survive myself and not to die from motherly burn out and heteronomy.

So I can identify with Homily. And I like Sheshesehn a lot, as she sees Homily's flaws so easily and realistically.


The novel tells me it's okay to give and to love, but I should not forget my own well-being over doing so. Monsters might not be able to see the boundaries themselves. And neither are small children. 

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