Books

Fragile Animals by Genevieve Jagger review – a captivating and original gothic novel

A deep and unpredictable addition to the recent spate of literary vampire novels

Fragile Animals by Genevieve Jagger is out now (404 Ink, £10.99)

Genevieve Jagger’s debut Fragile Animals is a literary novel that dips its toe into genre waters, specifically the horror trope of vampires. There has been a spate of literary vampire novels and television shows of late, and it’s a genre that lends itself to deep examination, with in-built issues of morality and connection between perpetrator and victim. 

In Fragile Animals, hotel cleaner Noelle travels from Edinburgh to the Isle of Bute in an unfocused attempt to find herself and deal with her past trauma. Noelle is carrying Catholic guilt from her upbringing, as well as a heavy history of sexual and parental trauma, all of which is pressing down on her. On Bute she meets Moses, an older man and self-proclaimed vampire. The narrative switches between their relationship in the present day and flashbacks to Noelle’s troubled past, Jagger handling the two timelines with confidence.

Written in the first person, this book is carried by Noelle’s voice, an endlessly interesting and captivating outlook on life, both past and present. And it’s funny too, Noelle is very self-aware and self-critical, drole and frank, painfully open and honest, and she drags the reader along on her precarious journey. 

This is a book that moves slowly towards healing and closure but never in predictable or pat fashion, the author instead dealing deeply and originally with the issues that she’s chosen to look at. But most of all it’s a rollocking good tale, one that bodes well for Jagger’s literary future. 

Doug Johnstone is an author and journalist.

Fragile Animals by Genevieve Jagger is out now (404 Ink, £10.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.
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