Updated: Apr 8
Having already read (and loved) The Tenth Girl, Faring's first book which came out just a year before, the blurb for White Fox made me feel like this would be a very different kind of book. The Tenth Girl was a Patagonian gothic horror of the classic kind, but with a distinct and playful 21st century twist. White Fox sounded a lot more like a traditional family history mystery, in the vein of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I was both right and wrong.
Eight pages in I found the first Tenth Girl easter egg, which made me smile and realise that this book, too, would be just a little bit skewed. White Fox follows Tai and Noni Hammick Foix, sisters whose Hepburnesque mother, Mireille, disappeared ten years ago, creating a huge Hollywood mystery that continues to haunt them into adulthood. They return to the fictional island of Viloxin, establishing an alternate reality with some strange sci-fi twists. There they find the manuscript their mother was writing when she disappeared, a strange fairytale allegory that seems to hint at the secrets Mireille Foix took with her.
There is much strangeness to this story, evoked primarily by the not-quite-rightness and yet utterly recognisable community on Viloxin, and the reality-into-fairytale stories of the White Fox screenplay. The world is somehow both magical and mundane, populated by robot PAs and drama school interns made to work at a florist shop.
The tight point of view of Tai and Noni, an Insta influencer and pragmatic writer respectively, also adds to the heightened strangeness. More than anything, this book is about the stories children are told, and how much of those stories remain fact into adulthood. Tai and Noni have had a legend repeated to them so often, everything seems to fall away once they start to discover that being 'protected' means being lied to. For all the weirdness, these are the moments that hit home for me and made me truly engaged in the story.
I think this book represents a beautiful balance between the strange, skewed world of Sara Faring, which I have a feeling is going to continue to expand, and the kind of twisty family history mystery that is so popular right now. This could be a really welcoming introduction into the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres for anyone wanting to dip their toe into genre fiction.
White Fox by Sara Faring is available to buy here.
Sara Faring's first book, The Tenth Girl, is available to purchase from us here.