The Harpy is the second novel for Megan Hunter with her notable The End We Start From being a terrifying depiction of the future. With much contention in her debut there has been great anticipation for her second book, you can expect as uncomfortable a read as her first novel.
Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has sacrificed her career in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house, which is something that took much consideration and rumination. A man calls one afternoon with a heart-breaking message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband. The revelation marks a pivotal turning point for the couple, they decide to stay together, but make a bizarre arrangement designed to even the score between the two and naively save their marriage, with an element of sadism.
As the couple submit to this destructive and sadistic game, Lucy herself begins to evolve, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return. This is where the Harpy comes in.
A swift, short novel, The Harpy has much going for it, the narrative structure, the complex characters and this notion of the harpy. With many visual references, Hunter’s novel is an inwardly focussed disturbing novel.
Told in an almost musical prose, The Harpy is a haunting, staggering fairy tale, mythical and otherworldly and yet contemporary. It is a book of love, marriage, the failures, the dynamics, with power, control and revenge all at the core, with much for the reader to bite on. Megan Hunter does it again, raising questions and eyebrows with subjects that add a layer of contention to a book that explores family, infidelity and fairytale.
The Harpy is out now, published by Picador Books.