Fragile Animals

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Pub Date Apr 25 2024 | Archive Date Jun 15 2024

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When an ex-catholic woman develops a sexual relationship with a vampire, she is forced to confront the memories that haunt her religious past.

Struggling to deal with the familial trauma of her Catholic upbringing, hotel cleaner, Noelle, travels to the Isle of Bute. There, she meets a man who claims to be a vampire, and a relationship blooms between them based solely on confession. But as talk grows sacrilegious, and the weather outside grows colder, Noelle becomes hounded by memories of her past – her blasphemous sexuality, and the love she lost while stuck in the closet; of her mother’s affair with the local priest, and the part she played in ending it.

When an ex-catholic woman develops a sexual relationship with a vampire, she is forced to confront the memories that haunt her religious past.

Struggling to deal with the familial trauma of her...

Advance Praise

"Gorgeous and gothic" - i-D

"A slick literary vampire novel to sink your teeth into. Hot!" - Alice Slater, author of Death of a Bookseller

"To read Jagger's prose is to be riven; like the call of the ocean, one gazes into the story and becomes engulfed--Fragile Animals invites the reader into an awakening of the self which feels at once violent and immobilising" - Elle Nash, author of Deliver Me

"Shirley Jackson meets The Wasp Factory. Fragile Animals is bold, beguiling and breathtaking" - Carrie Marshall, author of Carrie Kills A Man

"Gorgeous and gothic" - i-D

"A slick literary vampire novel to sink your teeth into. Hot!" - Alice Slater, author of Death of a Bookseller

"To read Jagger's prose is to be riven; like the call of the...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781912489961
PRICE £10.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 118 members

Featured Reviews

I’m speechless? This book was like nothing I’ve ever read before. It was gothic, gory, gorgeous and heartbreaking. I don’t think I can even sum it up well enough for a review, it was truly mesmerising. While I didn’t love it at first, but about 20% into the story I was hooked. I adored the characters, their personalities and flaws. I especially loved the writing style and the switch between short passages, longer sentences. The inclusion of faith, Catholicism, sin and what this all means in the grand scheme of things was fascinating, plus the inclusion of vampires and what that means in terms of God really made this book a stand out.

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Damn. What can I even say about this book?! I randomly requested this ARC through NetGalley because the cover was cool. Never heard of this book or the author. I am in shock at how much I love this book. I actually want to cry.

This book was unhinged in the best possible way. It was crude. It was funny. It was beautiful. It was heartbreaking. And at times I was on the edge of my seat, it was intense. Fragile Animals dives into many different types of relationships; family, romantic, friend, religious, self. Cover brilliant, chapter titles brilliant, dialogue brilliant. I did not want this to end.

I will be buying a physical copy of this, and this will be added to my all time favorites.

Just some of my Fav quotes:

None of myself makes sense to myself.

I’m not lying when I tell you I despise men.

I am punched in the stomach by the improbable passing of time.

Does any of it mean anything at all? I feel sad in my kidneys.

Have you ever considered the idea that there are too many organized religions for Christianity to be logically the right one?

The Church, like the whole thing, the big looming mass of it, you realize contradiction is rife at every turn. Love thy neighbor but not thy gay neighbor.

The cold hurts me carefully. Each grain of sand is like glass between my toes. My feet are supermarket prawns, squiggling away from my body.

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Such a super unique premise for a book and the touch of vampires is what initially peaked my interest. A great work of literature. Cant wait for the next.

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First word that comes to mind thinking about this book is just… wow.

Going off the synopsis I predicted this was just going to be a weird little book about a girl entering a tormentous relationship with a “so called vampire” while delving into her past religious trauma. But I have never been so glad to be so wrong. (Minus the religious trauma).

Although yes, there is a vampire, he is definitely not the main focus of the story. Which I loved that he was used basically as a way to fully explore Noelle’s trauma and her own inner thoughts and feelings about religion and herself.

The prose was so beautiful and the hypocrisy & gossipy nature of small town churches was written in a way that only someone who grew up in one can really capture.

This was a 4⭐️ read for me until the last couple of chapters. They were so beautiful and I really did not expect to cry. Noelle’s story will stay with me for a long time and I can’t wait to buy a copy for myself when it’s released.

Thank you NetGalley & the publisher for providing me with a copy for review!

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What a dense maze of a book that plunges the reader into the paranoia, anxiety and wholly human qualities of the mind in such a visceral and rich way. Wholly unique and unlike anything I have read before and yet so believable and engrossing. Jagger does not shy away from the gore of humanity nor the fragility of being human. Based around a girl in her young twenties, Noelle, who has arrived on a remote Scottish island on an impromptu holiday, the book slowly and insidiously unfurls what has led her to attempt such an escape both in exploring her childhood trauma and how this has followed her through life.

At the core of this book is the impact of faith, and being raised 'brutally Catholic' on the human mind, and it is painful to read as Noelle ties herself in frantic knots trying to decode whether her actions will condemn her to hell or whether she is worth of forgiveness. Jagger powerfully conveys this internal torment both through the twisting, question-driven internal narrative and the jarring, sudden references to her self-harming, both actively cutting herself, and a disregard for her health and hygiene. The plot draws a powerful link between religious approval and the approval of her emotionally distant, hyper religious mother (cleverly given a capitalised pronoun akin to God himself), and the challenges of functioning when appear to fail to gain both the approval of a social and societal hub like the Church and of a fundamental foundation of your family structure. Both are divine beings in the eyes of a child and both can control and shape your outlook on life irrevocably. Over the course of the novel, through unnerving references towards prior events and the slow unwinding of her past, you learn what led to Noelle breaking with the church, and with her mother, and the ways these twist and align.

Jagger also powerfully explores the legacy of Catholicism in relation to the LGBTQ+ community, and this is where Noelle as a walking contradiction plays out most powerfully. She adores her 'almost uncle', Lorne, who is a gay man and yet refers to being gay as 'having it' like it's a catchable disease. Her relationship with Loamie, which is similarly slowly unpicked, is also where she becomes the most unreliable narrator. both in presenting their dynamic, her role in it, and her feelings towards her 'half flatmate'. Repeatedly, Noelle presents herself as powerless, Loamie leading the the physicality of the relationship, and her flatmate even being the one to give Loamie a key, and yet, as the story unravels, the complexity of Noelle's psyche, and her own issues are seen to play a much larger role in the relationship than she immediately admits.

Upon arrival at the island, Noelle stays in a B&B with the owner, Cairstine, and an elusive man, Moses. Moses presents himself as a vampire and a taxidermist, and his dynamic with Noelle is perhaps one of the most interesting and engaging aspects of the book. Despite repeatedly claiming that she is 'too open', it appears that Moses is the one to unfurl many aspects of her trauma that others, including Loamie, are not as privy to, and the raw, animalistic nature of their attraction and behaviour towards one another is so charged and absorbing. Perhaps the most powerful moments are not when they are physical, but rather as they navigate the spaces in their relationship, and engage in the tug and pull dynamic. If anything, I simply would have enjoyed more time delving into this dynamic, and its complexities. He represents the sin that she is both constantly drawn to and yet eternally repulsed by. His supposed immortality suggests that he may never meet the fate or final judgement that Noelle fears so much. Their ending, although perhaps fitting, is almost stinging in how it leaves the reader with more questions and a desire for more.

While Jagger handles the questions and tensions within the novel masterfully, perhaps equally engaging and haunting is her prose. She has a distinct command of the language, and her words often read like poetry as Noelle navigates both her physical and mental landscape. Every word is chosen with care, and every image is striking, precise and evocative: 'He feels objects like a hound: tongue first.' The flashbacks built around the church and her family home are rich, and adopt a strangely childlike reminiscence even as these memories are poisoned by what comes after. As Noelle's sense of self blurs and cracks, the confusing blend of first and third person narration as her mind splits from her body is also ingenious and delivers the reader into the same confusion and blur of action and thought that the protagonist herself is feeling.

This is a memorable, haunting, beautiful book that I will think back to and revisit often. The ending feels perfect in its incompleteness, and, while I will always want to delve back into Noelle's complex existence, I am more than excited to see what Jagger comes up with next.

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