... witty and bizarre ... what makes Nightbitch stand apart from the usual early motherhood stories, teeth and all, is that Yoder doesn’t focus on how hard being a new mom is, nor does she romanticize the experience. Instead, by blending the real and the surreal, Yoder shows a woman following her primal instincts and becoming her own person — or dog, I should say — outside of cultural norms. And in doing so, she finds freedom ... Be warned — the novel is dark, gory, violent. But Nightbitch is fantastically rendered. Yoder’s voice is razor-sharp, poignant and wry. While it’s seeped in mythical qualities, the haunting premise doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Nightbitch is a stunning modern feminist fable that shouldn’t be missed.
The ideas in Nightbitch may not be new but they’re given renewed urgency by the story. As with Kafka’s Metamorphosis or the gorier feminist tales of women becoming animals in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, this is an archetypal character, seen in close-up but with a distance between her and the narrator. Yoder’s voice is precise and funny, pitch-perfect as it modulates between wry social observation and ecstatic accounts of the mother’s nights of gnashing rabbits in her neighbours’ gardens. There is astonishing skill and dexterity here; the story retains the graceful distance of the fable but has far more stream of consciousness and social observation than we expect in a fairytale ... The situation builds to a crisis, with the mother’s violent urges becoming more dangerous. Something has to change and the answer comes through art. I wondered if too much was made of it as a solution to life – the sense that she has a vocation to fulfil feels a little over-weighted. Some of the book’s vision of nature loses its charge when it’s put back into the gallery. But as a vision of womanhood and of motherhood, this remains a terrifically alive and imaginative tale of 'a wild, complicated woman with strange yearnings' – an important contribution to the engagement with motherhood that rightly dominates contemporary feminism.
... seems at first to fit into that tradition of gravid terror. But instead of recoiling like Geena Davis, the novel turns back on itself with a growl, biting down on its own flank ... a novel about bringing itself into being. The messy art the mother imagines about moms and rage and smashing stuff is the book itself.