... searing and ethereal ... The fable’s metaphors leap organically from the page, contouring the dichotomy as capably as do Neel’s oils: a newborn’s vulnerability and destructive power; the mother’s isolation; her tender, feral nature ... While ambiguity in fables allows for interpretation, a vague idea of disability in a metaphorical construction runs the risk of reducing severe disability to animalistic comparison. Chouette seems to answer this by focusing squarely on Tiny’s fierce love as she battles her husband and nature to allow Chouette to be wild and exact, stakes that feel frightening and true to life ... In fiction, supernatural premises are notoriously hard to land, but Chouette’s final moments are among its loveliest. Human and owl meet in equal measure on the page in a crescendo of stunning lines. Just as Tiny longs for the world to meet her daughter where she is instead of forcing her into societal norms, Chouette is best met where it resides: as a harrowing and magnificent fable.
[Oshetsky's] depiction of a baby who misses its developmental milestones, doesn’t speak and lashes out when frightened will be familiar to some families with experience of disability or neurodiversity ... Disability is frequently used as a horror trope, and in the wrong hands it is a metaphor that can become tasteless and offensive. This is not the case here. Really, Chouette is a sublime parable of mother-love which ferociously eviscerates society’s failure to accept nonconformity. It features one of the most detestable son/mother-in-law duos that I have known in fiction ... full of moments of dark humour as the otherworldly elements of the narrative brush up against the mundanity of suburban life and the demands it places on wives and mothers. Like all works of 'fantastic' literature, it leaves the reader uncertain: is this a book about the truly supernatural, or the manifestation of a maternal coping mechanism? ... It would not surprise me if Chouette finds a place in the feminist literary canon. It has lingered in my mind in a way that only the most original works do. In its exploration of difference – of disability, of queerness – it feels truly modern, but in its themes of love and sacrifice, it is the oldest tale in the world.
... frighteningly elegant, darkly funny, horrifyingly tender ... this remarkable debut novel surveys parenthood through the prism of a parable: here, its unthinking obligations are pushed to their limits ... Chouette’s magical-realist text mirrors that slippery ambiguity; often, it is hard to decipher Tiny’s descriptions of how something feels from how something is ... Like all the best fables, Chouette locates a current of human darkness pulsing just below its surface. Filtered through Tiny’s hallucinatory descriptions and vivid musicality, Chouette’s outbursts (and her, um, taste for blood) make for a synaesthetic reading experience – this is prose to sink into, more than buoyant enough to take a reader’s full weight ... Delivering a flagrant 'screw you' to some of society’s favourite lies – that motherhood is painless; that pain is somehow noble or clarifying; that healthfulness is the same as goodness – Oshetsky has produced a troubling triumph that is brave enough to leave its biggest questions unanswered.