The Girl in the Road

Monica Byrne
The Girl in the Road  Cover

Fabulously dark and daring


A little girl crosses Africa to get to the coast. A woman flees her demons in India. It might seem sweet, almost quirky, but the protagonists are consistently odd, outsiders in their respective societies, and what follows is a drumbeat of doom that permeates the link between two women's stories, symbolized by a nano-bridge umbilicus that stretches from Djibouti to India. This is nano-psychological horror; the sense of dread is delicious, but never overwhelming. For sci-fi fans, if you love Robinson and Gibson and McDonald, you will love Byrne. (And that scene where Meena rides out a hurricane in a submarine nano-bubble is as memorable as any Robinson-style space elevator catastrophe.)

Why it is excellent: Byrne seems to subscribe to a system of immersive, method writing, and the quality of minutiae layered on depth transcends the story in so many ways. Byrne neglects nothing. Her characters are whole and intense; she takes risks and sees them through. Do not be afraid of this book. Succumb to the Byrne.

This is an incredibly thoughtful author. Critics of uncomfortable scenes are missing the gist of what Byrne is doing here.

Why I think it's not getting the attention it deserves: It can't technically be a niche-buzzed book when Neil Gaiman blurbed it, but I ignored it for its looks, and the book suffers from a load of mixed reviews. With the pink on the cover and a The Girl ____ -style title, it's possible this book is attracting the wrong readers and ARC reviewers. Readers appreciative of dark psychological drama and savvy to textual metaphors and foreshadowing might avoid pink books with Girl in the title. But I bet the publisher got more money out of that kind of face-marketing so who am I...

And if you must read it, which you must: Please do yourself a favor and give the audio version a whirl. Narrators Dioni Collins and Nazneen Contractor are incredible performers. The neighborhood bunnies couldn't distract me from Collins' and Contractor's hypnotic voices when I took it on my jogs. Even when I had time to read the text, I kept the audio going in my ears and I never do that.