For anyone who might imagine Julavits — a member of the McSweeney’s circle, best-known for her antisnark manifesto in the literary magazine The Believer — to be a soft touch, “The Uses of Enchantment” will be a welcome corrective. But despite its caustic style, the story, by its final chapters, reveals its sadder underpinnings. Because in the final analysis, the book’s central mystery is not about what happened to Mary. It’s about what happened between Mary and her mother — about Mary’s search for a clue that her mother was on her side. That she loved her. Or at the very least, that she forgave her for what did or did not happen.
more from the NY Times Book Review here.