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A Young Woman's Quest In A Dystopian City Of Watchers

Fox Fires

Wyl Menmuir

Cornwall based author Wyl Menmuir’s successful debut novel The Many received excellent reviews and was long listed for the Booker Prize in 2016; the author’s follow up Fox Fires is a mesmerising page turner. Devouring every word on the first sitting, I immediately returned to the first page and started all over again.

Wren Lithgow is a young woman whose life has been devoted to the endless demands of her concert pianist mother, Cleo. The women are constantly on tour; while Cleo performs on the grand concert stages of Europe, Wren takes charge of their temporary homes – a servant to the unpredictable moods of her mother.

Eventually the women arrive in O, a strangely menacing city of curfews, secrets, state control, unseen and unknown watchers, a place where maps are banned, but O is also the city of Wren’s conception. Over the years Cleo has resolutely refused to give Wren any information about her father, the only memento of her parents’ union is Ariadne, a wind up doll, and the only clue Wren holds to her father’s identity is that her mother and father fell in love in O. Wren’s mother will do everything in her power to prevent her daughter from searching the city for her mysterious father, so Wren leaves the confines of their shared home to begin her quest taking Ariadne and all the cash she can lay her hands on.

The city of O becomes a major character in the book; Wyl Menmuir’s beautiful writing breathes life into the dark buildings and streets. O is forbidding, a brooding, watching beast, dystopian and cold, it is a city that lurks and spies on its citizens. On her journey through this Orwellian world Wren spends much of her time in the library, she teaches herself the language of O and begins to create her own map of the city before falling in love with a young photographer, Alexis.

Fox Fires does not end with the young lovers’ affair; Wren’s voyage of discovery brings betrayal and unexpected twists before we reach a surprising conclusion to the story.

Brilliantly conceived and written, Fox Fires is the perfect read for those who enjoy losing themselves in the darker side of literature.

Find out more about Wyl Menmuir –


Fox Fires was published by Salt in 2021.

Wyl Menmuir will be my guest on ‘Anything Goes’ on Soundart Radio on Friday 10th September 2021 at 5pm. - https://www.soundartradio.org.uk

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