Rachel Harrison has a rare skill with narration. Throughout her novels, her leads are relatable, flawed, humorous, and enjoyable. Her latest, “Black Sheep,” is no exception and may well be her finest to date. The cynical Vesper Wright had once left her home years ago, and never once looked back.
Until now. Vesper is the ‘Black Sheep’ of her family. Coming from a firmly religious background, Vesper desired more. The day she left, she was told she could never return. But now Vesper is invited to her cousin Rosie’s wedding.
Unfortunately, Vesper is plunged into a nightmare of reconnecting with toxic family and all their secrets. Even the ones that should remain buried.
From the start, Harrison’s writing is intelligent and sharp. Vesper’s narration is perfectly suited to the plot. Harrison filters toxic family and freedom through Vesper’s biting wit and never once does it grow dull. The dialogue and viewpoint remain snappy throughout.
But Harrison also excels in characterization. She weaves the portrait of an incredibly dysfunctional family and town, before mining it for all it is worth. Buried secrets in small towns are a horror staple, and Harrison makes it fresh and enjoyable.
The storyline comes to a cathartic and powerful conclusion. Thought here are several lulls in the pacing, Black Sheep is a well developed, delightful story that heralds another blast from Harrison.