With The Furies, British writer Natalie Haynes has delivered an addictive, dark and suspenseful— yet sensitive—debut about death, obsession and fate.

After a sudden tragedy shatters her happy life as an actress and theater director in London, Alex Morris moves to Edinburgh to teach at a “last-chance” school for troubled teens. When she faces down her most intimidating class, a group of fierce personalities who convene in the school’s basement classroom, she finds common ground with them by teaching classic Greek drama. At first, the students seem interested only in the stories’ sensational plot developments, but as time passes they grow more intent, more fascinated—and more likely to take the tales of revenge, fate and fury to heart.

Haynes explores the twisting relationship between Alex and her students not just through Alex’s narration, but also through the diary entries of her most attentive pupil. The result is a novel of dueling perspectives, a dance of two tragic lives intertwining in ever more fascinating, ever more destructive ways.

The novel generates a whirlwind pace and a psychological tension as it darts between points of view, but the boldest thing about The Furies is the way Haynes explores something universal in a very intimate way. She laces the psychological tragedies at the heart of her plot with a sense of deep vulnerability and humanity in her characters as they explore not just the white heat of tragedy, but the never-ending throb of grief.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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