Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for sending me this book to review — it meant a ton ; this in no way affects my review or rating.

Trigger warning: bizarre as fuck gore / animal death / mentions of blood, explosions and death

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University.

A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

This book, to sum it up in one word, was bizarre. As fuck. It was weird. In places, it literally made no sense and I was lost on what the actual plot was. But I loved liked it, strangely enough.

Way towards the end, there was this quote which pretty much explains my thought process.

“JUST SAY IT. TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED. TELL ME WHAT THE FUCK THIS MEANS AND WHAT YOU DID EXACTLY.”

Because honestly, what the FUCK even was this book? It was good, I can’t deny that, it was so well-written and I loved the pacing, the descriptions, the twists Awad took us on but . . . what the fuck happened?

I usually love reading books in one fell swoop but put this down to eat, because I just needed that time to think.

I was craving chicken nuggets and J wanted a milkshake. So as a compromise, we got a whole meal.

It was full of toxic, dark, codependency, with power struggles, murder and a shit ton of bunnies. It’s . . . not what I thought I would be reading. I don’t know what I expected, but it sure as fuck wasn’t whatever this was! It’s a distorted looking glass, where the rabbit is split into four rich women, changing their behaviours from loving and affectionate to malicious manipulation and abusive words, their style rigid in both appearance and creativity. Their intelligence is somewhat thwarted by their inseparable attitudes, their dependency on one another.

Our narrator, Samantha, is the outsider looking in through the looking glass, all dark and twisty, her craft dancing with darker themes anointed as being angry / mean / bitter by the other four women in her class. These four are giggling, sparkling, immersed in mini cupcakes and PinkBerry and mini cocktails, dressing in cutesy clothes, glittering and shimmering with a false aura of innocence.

In ways, it’s similar to Heathers.

In ways, it’s absolutely out of this world batshit crazy. Not at first though. At first glance, it’s a typical story about an Ivy League school and the goings-on within the campus. And then it continues, and you realise — well this isn’t what I thought it would be.

Bunny speaks on the role of an outsider in a workshop of four women, so close, and a mentor practically fangirling over them.

”What do you think, Samantha?” Fosco asks me.

That it’s a piece of pretentious shit. That is says nothing, gives nothing. That I don’t understand it, that probably no one does and no one ever will. That not being understood is a privilege I can’t afford. That I can’t believe this woman got paid to come here. That I think she should apologize to trees. Spend a whole day on her knees in the forest, looking up at the trembling aspens and oaks and whatever other trees paper is made of with tears in her languid eyes and say, I’m fucking sorry. I’m sorry that I think I’m so goddamned interesting when it is clear that I am not interesting. Here’s what I am: I’m a boring tree murderess.

But I look at Vignette, at Creepy Doll, at Cupcake, the Duchess. All of them staring at me now with shy smiles.

“I think I’d like to see more of the soup too,” I hear myself say.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to read Samantha’s work, but this entire book is a lens through her eyes—the descriptions poetic and woven from dreams. I adored it all—I’m a description fan.

“She shivers at the view of the grand trees, as if they’re not trees at all but something truly vile, like all the rosy-blond light that seems to forever bathe the campus is about to punch her in the face like a terrible fist of rich.”

This book was wild, sharp and fairytale-esque, of both dreams and nightmares. It explored themes relating to wanting to fit in, be part of a group, loneliness and the witty snark against over the top friendliness, excitement and popularity.

“And then they hug each other so hard I think their chests are going to implode. I would even secretly hope for it from where I sat, stood, leaned in the opposite corner of the lecture hall, department lounge, auditorium, bearing witness to four grown women – my academic peers – cooingly strangle each other hello. Or goodbye. Or just because your so amazing, Bunny. How fiercely they gripped each other’s pink and white bodies, forming a hot little circle of such rib-crushing love and understanding that it took my breath away. And the nuzzling of ski-jump noses and peach fuzzy cheeks. Temples pressed against temples in a way that made me think of the labial rubbing bonobo or the telepathy of beautiful murderous children in horror films. All eight of their eyes shut tight as if this collective asphyxiation were a kind of religious bliss. All four of their glossy mouths making squealing sounds of monstrous love that hurt my face.

I love you, Bunny.”

This book was great but it did get too much — like get to the point, what is going on? Some books are fine when left up to the imagination, without an explanation, but this one was just not that. It’s pretentious fuck and honestly the blurb doesn’t do anything to capture the essence of this story.

I’m just . . . I don’t know. This book was weird.

So maybe it’s like a 3.5 stars. I don’t know.

What do you guys think? Have you read the book? Let me know.

—Sumaiya, xo

Posted by:Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light. She is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Poised.

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