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3.57  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The prize-winning, bestselling author of Gingerbread; Boy, Snow, Bird; and What is Not Yours is Not Yours returns with a vivid and inventive new novel about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage.

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment--and to get them out of her house. Setting off
ebook, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2021 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  115 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: surreal, trains
What does it mean to be seen by those you value, and what befalls you when you become invisible to them? Helen Oyeyemi’s Peaces is a skilful and unsettling fable that is difficult to pin down, slowly allowing the existential angst to seep into the reader. Known for brilliant fairy tale recreation that perfectly embodies the genre in a literary sense, here Oyeyemi slips comfortably into train-mystery aesthetic that feel like Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes meets surrealist horror that just so happe ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not every book is for every reader, and I was absolutely not the right reader for PEACES. I should just accept that my love for Helen Oyeyemi’s previous novel GINGERBREAD is a fluke, and also I’m not sure she ever apologized for the abhorrent transphobia of her novel BOY, SNOW, BIRD, so why am I even still reading her? I clearly deserve the vast unpleasantness that was this reading experience.

PEACES is framed as a whimsical train journey where bizarre and inexplicable things happen, so I though
Jessica Klahr
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was such a wild (train) ride. I had trouble mentally squaring off with Oyeyemi’s last book Gingerbread but Peaces was just grounded enough, while still fully encapsulating her enviable imagination, to be accessible. We follow Otto and his partner Xavier and their pet mongoose on their non honeymoon honeymoon, a gift from Xavier’s aunt. They board a train headed to a destination unknown. The ticket divulges no clues and the compartments are symboled instead of numbered or lettered. Ther ...more
Jan 08, 2021 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
i fucking love mongooses
Jan 11, 2021 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Praying that Oyeyemi treats queer issues with respect this time
Cindy C
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, readin2021
I love everything Helen Oyeyemi writes.

Is it because she loves k-dramas, chinese poets, certain TYPES OF BRITISH things, fairy tales and teapots (amongst other things).

Her last 3 books have been my favorites: Gingerbread, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, and now Peaces.

My logical mind has little idea what is going on in Peaces. But its a limitation of the reader, and not the work. I read it too fast b/c I was enjoying the ride and now I need to read it over and over agai. With each subsequent rea
It would appear that Helen Oyeyemi has left me way behind. While I loved her early books, her most recent books, including this one, are just increasingly inaccessible to me. I keep hoping the next will be the one that pulls me back into her work, but I think I just need to move on.

This book just really made me think of an absurdist work, like something by Thomas Pynchon. There is so little to really grasp onto to keep the reader curious about the plot, and going from chapter to chapter feels co
Lisa Martin
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to get into this book. The beginning felt a bit like a fever dream as strange scenarios and people were introduced and then seemed to recede away as Xavier and Otto fumble their way through the Lucky Day. I felt lost at first, to be honest, and I think in other situations or moods I might have stopped at around the page 40 mark and tried something else.

I stuck with it and eventually all the pieces started coming together, the characters started to really click for me, and the
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wild ride, set on a train, featuring mongooses. "Fever dream" that some other reviewers used is a great description. ...more
Anna Eklund
So gloriously, deliciously bonkers! I loved every moment of this fever dream journey.
John Amory
Feb 02, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm done with Oyeyemi. No matter how much I appreciate the imagination and clever touches in her work, I never enjoy reading it and almost always walk away more frustrated and confused than satisfied. ...more

Hey book lovers! I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. I've been reading, but haven't been in the mood to write for some reason. I imagine it's because we didn't have a March break at school until this week, and so March was a very long month both as an educator and a parent. We have this week off, and our province is on lockdown, so I am looking forward to catching up on some book reviews. Today, I'm here with a book review for Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi. After giving Gingerbread 3

Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a 4.5 on the helen oyeyemi scale (which puts it at a solid 6/5 in the field overall)—she hasn't beaten mr. fox as a technical achievement or white is for witching as a visceral one, and she may never, but this is far and away the most rewarding puzzle of her more recent work. a good helen oyeyemi leaves you confused at the end but in possession of a complete toolkit. mr police, she gives you all the clues.

the synopsis of this reads like a wes anderson film and in pretty much any other au
Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5, maybe?

I was so nervous after really bouncing out of Oyeyemi's prior book and having some difficult conversations about BOY SNOW BIRD that this wouldn't go well. Isn't that always the way, when you hope that the experience of a favorite author's new work will match up to the ones that made them a favorite in the first place? Wonderfully, PEACES is Oyeyemi in fine form -- with all the wonder and frustration that entails.

One thing that strikes me is how many of her novels rely (yes, fai
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.**

This is definitely a book where you need to sit back and just let it take you where it wants to take you. It's both whimsical and unnerving, and goes in a lot of unexpected directions at a pace that seems almost aimless (until the last act). This meandering quality, this feeling that nothing is really happening (particularly in the beginning of the book) is made enjoyable purely by Oyeyemi's skill on the sentence level. There are just so many del
Mar 19, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
PEACES by Helen Oyeyemi is a weird and unique novel. This story begins with a gay couple who takes their pet mongoose on a train ride. This book is one wild journey as is their train ride. The storyline is meandering as we meet different characters from the past and present. The writing is fantastic in the descriptions and the vivid storytelling that really propelled me to keep reading. I read this book really quickly. It was not a traditional plot line and nothing truly happens but it’s a stran ...more
Sam Bizar
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have a soft spot for Oyeyemi. While her best work is still her short fiction, Peaces is probably the most successful of her novels. This is largely because the conceit - travel aboard a train - adds an element of structure that her plotting often lacks when splayed out over the course of a longer narrative. What one would come to expect from Oyeyemi - elements of magical realism, playful uses of language, and surprising twists - abound here. And though the characters lack a certain depth and t ...more
Apr 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clunky and incoherent save the last 20 or so pages. I'm a big fan of the author's work but this required an enormous amount of attention to get through--only to be delivered to a very simple and straightforward (albeit brutal) takeaway. May rank among Oyeyemi's most accessible books for that reason, but spelling things out so explicitly at the tail end made this construction feel like a house of cards (carriages?). The imagery here is gentler and/or less horrific than that of her previous books, ...more
Apr 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am generally a big fan of Oyeyemi; her previous novel was one of my favorites of 2019. This one didn’t really work for me, though. It centers on a thirty-something gay couple who, along with their pet mongoose, are taking a mysterious trip on a mysterious train. But the whole thing is too surreal for my tastes. I love the fantastic, but surrealism is just not my thing. I did love the narrative voice (and the couple and their relationship), and the end wa
Nelda Brangwin
I’ve never used the word “bonkers” to describe a book, but the latest from Oyeyemi is bonkers. Otto, a hypnotist and his boyfriend take a “non-honeymoon honeymoon”. Xavier’s aunt has arranged a train trip for them. Its not just the two of them going. They take their pet mongoose. Mystery abounds as a stranger passenger threatens the inheritance of the train’s owner. There are laughs and suspense as Oyeyemi weaves together the story of the people on the train. It’s not my favorite novel from this ...more
Christopher Louderback
I really wish you could do half stars here. This one really comes in just below four stars for me. In signature Oyeyemi style, warmly dark and colorfully ambiguous, Peaces takes you on a very wild ride — dizzying and sometimes confusing in its structure and narrative, this is a novel ultimately about the normalcy of relationships, and the impossible ways we create barriers to our own freedoms. In the end, it’s a story less involved with comprehension, and moreso with the vibrancy of the way it m ...more
Jonathan Hawpe
Mar 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Peaces, Oyeyemi fashions a madcap train ride mystery with true love, mongeese, semi-magical food, and family closet skeletons all in the mix. It's is a genre fluid affair, weaving a romantic path through Angela Carter's fairy tale reinventions, Wodehouse & Waugh's wit, Chesterton & Christie's crimes, and the sweet-n-sour surreality of Wes Anderson movies and Patrick Dewitt novels. ...more
Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very weird book! I enjoyed the confusion they gradually built to a kind of cohesion only to have the rug firmly pulled out from beneath me near the end. If you want to go on a journey that is nonlinear, but compelling, this is the book for you. A great choice for a book club.

NetGalley provided me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Karen Foster
Lovely writing yet a nonsensical plot, and just didn’t work for me. I loved the beautiful detail and descriptions, the anthropomorphized mongooses, the mysterious journey on the whimsical train, but lost interest in the convoluted story.... which is such a shame, as I’ve enjoyed her books in the past. Not for me I’m afraid.
I dnf, I just felt lost and not entranced, I was working in the garden listening to the audio debating just deleting and moving on, but couldn't quite go through with it... By late afternoon I never picked it up again, I just felt mired down, not light and breezy and frankly I don't care if I ever meet another mongoose in my life! A reluctant abandon at 40%... ...more
Apr 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 out of 5. Surprise and delight on every single page but I had no fucking clue what was going on...however I didn't find that to hinder my enjoyment of it. This is generally how I feel about the majority of Oyeyemi's work that I've read and its probably best to just surrender and let her take you on whatever ride this ends up being for you. ...more
If they bottled the essence of whatever happens in Oyeyemi's brain when she writes her stories, well, the world would be a much more interesting place. Longer review to come, but this is basically a horror story. ...more
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite Oyeyemi book yet. It has all the strangeness combined with all the groundedness and internal logic that make it a compelling read rather than a random walk. I want to reread it to dig deeper into some of the commentary and allegory about art, creativity, and social media.
Geraldine Kok
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
such an odd and whimsical novel. the setting, storyline and characters don't make sense, but at the same time they absolutely do. that's the glory of magical realism i guess.

funny, enthralling and exciting - loved it.
Maybe 2 stars and maybe 5 stars, I wasn’t prepared for this but swept up all the same. Not one but two pet mongoose. I was nervous straightaway when they couldn’t find the light switch and it never let up.
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Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots, and has written nine books so far.

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