Nova Ren Suma’s last novel, “The Walls Around Us,” effed with my head and this wasn’t any different. In a good way of course. Both books have the kind of ending that makes your brain do some work to connect all the pieces and then leaves you thinking it over for a while. While both books have a supernatural theme, they tackle different issues. This one focuses on family and self identity.
The book follows Bina, a teenage girl who escapes to NYC to stay at the boarding house where her mother once lived. The house isn’t exactly what she expected and more than a little eerie. She’s told that with her presence all the rooms are finally occupied and that means … something. The other girls don’t reveal what’s going on and slowly Bina starts to uncover some of the mystery on her own. The puzzle of what supernatural elements might be at play is what keeps the plot moving. I had a lot of “WHAT’S GOING ON????” moments while reading.
While the mysterious house is in the foreground of the story, it’s some magical confusion isn’t all that’s happening; there are also all the reasons Bina got there in the first place. Back home she has left her mother, her stepdad, and two slightly wicked step-sisters. Years before her mother’s marriage, they escaped an abusive father/husband. Like many teens, Bina is trying to figure out her place in a world where she feels abandoned.
Bina is an easy character to root for when she appears to be so badly treated and that is A Room Away from the Wolves’ true strength. The curious things happening around her are entrancing, but none of that would matter if I didn’t care so deeply for Bina.
+There’s only 2 male characters that have anything to do with the plot and then a whole cast of women/girls
+ The buildup and pacing
– I’d have liked a smidge more clarity with the ending
+ But the ending was also a surprising and gave me a lot to think about so it was still a strength of this novel
Note: An advanced copy of this book was provided free by the publisher for review consideration. This in no way influenced my opinion.