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A Psychological Thriller in a Canola Field: Foe by Iain Reid

Friday, November 15th, 2019 | Posted by CAITLIN MCALLISTER

FOE by Iain Reid-small FOE by Iain Reid-back-small

Cover by Laywan Kwan

Foe
By Iain Reid
Gallery/Scout Press (288 pages, $16 in trade paperback/$11.99 digital, July 2, 2019)
Cover by Laywan Kwan

Junior loves the wide-open space and solitude that the country provides. He’s content sharing a cup of hot, black coffee with his wife Henrietta (Hen), feeding the chickens and putting in a good day’s work at the mill. Life is good. Until it’s unexpectedly, incredibly, not.

A flash of sinister green headlights surprises Junior and Hen, and turns out to be a harbinger of an unusual visitor who turns their quiet life upside down. Junior has been chosen as one of the first travelers to help colonize a new community in outer space. He’ll be gone for years, but to keep Hen company they’ve provided her with very familiar company.

Set in the near future in (what I interpreted as) middle America, Foe is a masterfully woven tale of suspense. Reid creates a psychological thriller in the middle of an innocuous canola field.

Each chapter brings more questions and more unease through a brilliant use of punctuation and prose. It’s a short book, thank God, as it’s hard to put down once begun. Some chapters are only two pages, and for the small amount of words used, Reid spins a deliciously complicated plot.

I hesitate to say too much as not to spoil the story. I’m sure some were able to figure out the ending, and knowing what I know now, you can see the subtle clues that Reid leaves like ominous crumbs throughout. I am no Gretel, and was thus thrilled at the ending I didn’t see coming.

What I really enjoyed about the story are the numerous “foes” that Reid presents to the reader. You don’t realize how many you’ve met until the book is almost done, and it was the many options that kept me on my toes until the very last page. Woven in through the unnerving text is a deep look at humanity: what it means to be truly alive and how we navigate our most important relationships. Unlike many, this was my first introduction to Iain Reid’s writing, and I can’t wait to go back and read his debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

I highly recommend!


Caitlin is the Executive Director of Catapult Chicago, the only non-profit, peer-selected community for startups with business traction. With the bulk of her career based in hospitality at luxury-level resorts, her path to running a tech hub is an interesting one! No matter where that path has led, building great teams has always been at the core. In her current role, she helps 90+ startup founders do just that. Caitlin acquired a multicultural perspective through her many experiences traveling and living abroad in the United States, Europe and South America. Her last review for us was The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith.

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