Most books are an experience, some books act as precious objects, but occasionally—when many stars and aesthetics align—a book can be both. Maryse Meijer’s Northwood enters that slim, murky category of journey and sculpture ... It is physically, texturally gorgeous to see and to touch ... The book’s artful appearance melds with the voice of the protagonist, a lonely artist who spends a year in a secluded cabin in the woods ... The book studies the appeal of punishment for a person who feels they deserve pain; it examines the wrongheaded and sickly appeal of deep self-hate that once made you pick your acne or pull out your eyelashes in moments of stress. Of course, the text often sharply veers from allure into ugliness. Instead of purely romanticizing a man who loves by hitting—which, of course, would be a mistake—the book also reacts to its subject with deep disgust ... Meijer’s protagonist will drag you down into her most hideous, most beautiful pathos ... Perhaps the best part of this book is Meijer’s ability to add new dimensions to ancient cliches.
Might be the most densely packed fairy tale riff I’ve ever read ... Like the best fairy tales, Northwood shows us the clockwork that lies beneath society, but like the best modern fiction it asks us to confront our own acceptance of that society. It nudges us off safe paths and urges us further and further into the woods, and there isn’t a breadcrumb in sight.
Beautifully and mysteriously told in shards ... The reader feels compelled to witness the couple’s dynamic and the shadow it casts on the artist, as much as it disturbed. Meijer’s sparse, original writing is intoxicating.