I made cupcakes for my neighbor but kept half of them because The Witch Elm needed fluffy, sugary sprinkles to pair with its twisty darkness. This is Tana French’s angle on our #MeToo moment. It’s amazing and horrifying. I have seen a few reviews complaining that Toby, the main character, isn’t “likeable.” You guys, here’s the thing:
Yeah he’s the narrator, and yes Ms. French does an incredible job occupying his psyche. She does it so well that some readers fail to understand that Toby is THE VILLAIN. Not in the cartoonish Dr. Evil way, but in the mundane, everyday toxic male way. He’s the villain you dated in college. He’s the charming frat boy your friends warned you about. Toby is entitled, oblivious to his privilege, self-centered, and violent. When he learns a pair of cousins murdered a high-school classmate, he’s mostly mad that they excluded him from their plot. Being confined to a mental institution is exactly what he needs. Even then, he barely recognizes his own f*cked-upedness. The slithery genius of this book is that the reader has to put forth real effort to keep her own vision clear of Toby’s bullshit. Just like real life.