H. Anne Stoj's Reviews > The Truth About Unicorns

The Truth About Unicorns by Bonnie Jones Reynolds
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's review
Jan 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 2011

Set in the 1920's, Reynolds presents an almost ideal community. Almost because there are struggles, but they seem rather minor really (save, perhaps, Paul Bascomb's treatment of his daughter Lil). What I think Reynolds's shows, is that even when things look rather good on the surface, what goes on beneath might not match up. While the novel does have a mystical bent and deals with occult themes (I surprised myself by knowing who Montague Summers was as I actually have the book referenced), it's not completely about that. She shows the same sort of hysteria that swept through Salem and other cities, and still sweeps through it might not be over witchcraft now. The breakdown of community is, really, rather marvelous. How the lies of one person, or even a misunderstanding, becomes turned about into something horrific. The copy I own asks on the back cover: Who would like this? Fans of Shirley Jackson. And with that, I have to agree. Perhaps it's thanks to having read The Lottery so recently, but I could certainly see where the theme is similar. Not so much the execution (and in the Lottery that's very literal), but the panic of people.

Reynolds also shows the hidden strengths within people, and their weaknesses. For me they acted as something of a foil, a foil within themselves while there were also external foils in the shape of other characters. Part mystery, part horror, it really drew me in. Truly enjoyable.
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