BOOK REVIEW| what is not yours is not yours

Hey there lovely people!

This for me, was one of the most anticipated books of the year. I’d been looking forward to reading it since I heard of its existence. Helen Oyeyemi is an interesting writer and her mind is honestly fascinating to me, as are the characters she conjures in her books.

Read more of my raving about Oyeyemi here.

The book is a collection of short stories that are largely fantasy. Really, all the stories blur the boundaries between the real and the mythical. They often start out simple and then half human or non human characters emerge or captivating, unexplainable events ensue. I don’t enjoy non-realist fiction to be very honest. I get bored very quickly with them. This book though, I found interesting, even at times when I didn’t particularly like the stories.

I definitely enjoyed the second half of book more. My favorite stories out of all were:

a brief history of the homely wench society

is your blood as red as this?

if a book is locked there’s probably a good reason for that don’t you think 

dornicka and the st martin’s day goose

I liked the premise of the book being locks and keys. Each of the stories involves something being locked or keys (literal/metaphorical) to something/somewhere. Another thing I found really endearing was the fact that the stories begin to intersect as you read further. Most of the stories toward the end had characters from prior stories being involved in the lives of ‘current’ characters one way or another.

The tone of the book is so mystical and playful and you get the sense the author had a ball writing it. I picture her stifling giggles as she creates these delicate characters and their interesting names (although I’m fairly certain it didn’t happen this way).

as nighttime turned into dawn, the mountain seemed to travel down the street. It advanced on tiptoe, fully prepared to be shooed away.

A library at night is full of sounds: the unread books can’t stand it any longer and announce their contents, some boasting, some shy, some devious.

Tyche’s beauty is interestingly kinetic; it comes and goes and comes back again.

That’s Arjun’s gift; never trying too hard, always just doing enough. Somehow he knew how to be with people, when to make eye contact and when to gaze thoughtfully into the distance, how to prove that you’re paying attention to what you’re being told.

Sometimes I dream I’m falling, and it’s not so much frightening as it is tedious, just falling and falling until I’m sick of it, but then a noose stops me short and I think, well at least I’m not falling anymore.

Honoring delicacy over full disclosure only comes to haunt you in the end.

Who’s a homely wench? Luca is, and Day is, and so are Pepper and Thalia and Hilde and Willa and anyone who is not just content to accept an invitation but wants more people to join the party, more and more and more.

According to Dornicka, cities are fueled by the listless agony of workers providing services to other workers who barely acknowledge those services.

Even though all went on as before, Mum’s developed a sort of prejudice against writers; there are behaviors she now calls “writerly”, but I think she actually means uncooperative.

a person doesn’t easily recover from the sadness of finding that it’s not always affinity that draws us together (not always, not only), that you can be called to undo the deeds of another.

Could it be that nobody likes a man without ambition and everything is withheld from him until he changes his ways?

I’d say it was a good 4/5 and if you like fantasy novels, give this a shot and let me know your thoughts. If you’ve already read this book, which story/stories were your faves?

Afoma x



  • The title of the book drew me to it but I was dissapointed when I realized it was a collection of short stories. I’m not a big fan of collection of short stories, so I just jejely closed the book back. Maybe I’ll go back to it soon but I still keep feeling I won’t enjoy it.

    http://www.cassiedaves.com

    • I think it’s worth a read. This year I’m trying to read new authors and new genres that I don’t particularly love. It’s great way to open up my imagination and improve my story telling. So try as much as you can 🙂

      Thanks for commenting! ^_^

  • Love that cover!
    And from the quotes, it does sound like a delightful read
    I’ve heard nice things about her, but haven’t read any yet.
    I should 🙂

    • It really was a delight for the most part! I can send you some of her books I have.