By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea.
Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It’s 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn’t think he’s a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can’t seem to figure out Parisian girls. Zoya is a beautiful young woman wandering les boulevards, sad-eyed, coming off a bad breakup. In fact, she impaled her ex on a spike. Zoya, it turns out, has been a beautiful young woman for hundreds of years; she and her far more traditionally witchy-looking companion, Elga, have been thriving unnoticed in the bloody froth of Europe’s wars. Inspector Vidot is a hardworking Paris police detective who cherishes quiet nights at home. But when he follows a lead from a grisly murder to the abode of an ugly old woman, he finds himself turned into a flea. Oliver is a patrician, fun-loving American who has come to Paris to start a literary journal with the help of friends in D.C. who ask a few favors in return. He’s in well over his head, but it’s nothing that a cocktail can’t fix. Right? Add a few chance encounters, a chorus of some more angry witches, a strung-out jazzman or two, a weaponized LSD program, and a cache of rifles buried in the Bois de Bologne—and that’s a novel! But while Toby Barlow’s Babayaga may start as just a joyful romp though the City of Light, it quickly grows into a daring, moving exploration of love, mortality, and responsibility.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: The rule-abiding detective acclimates remarkably well after being transformed into a flea. The humdrum ad man keeps a cool head when he finds himself neck deep in international intrigue. The warring witches consistently underestimate one another despite their centuries of shared history. And author Toby Barlow proves himself to be refreshingly indifferent to genre boundaries, artfully knotting together one brilliantly bonkers tale that’s part dark comedy, part surreal fantasy, part Parisian love story, part spy thriller, and all magnificently enchanting. His ensemble cast of potently engrossing characters propels several carefully crafted, criss-crossing plot lines, all of which he deftly guides to one satisfying end. –Robin A. Rothman
Product Details Hardcover: 400 pages Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 6, 2013) Language: English ISBN-10: 0374107874 ISBN-13: 978-0374107871