We gave it an A
Cleverly fusing strands from Alice in Wonderland with a psychedelic English rave, Alison Habens’ marvelous first novel Dreamhouse crackles with wit, wordplay, and subversive underlying truths that would make Lewis Carroll proud. Four feuding twentysomething housemates accidentally throw three separate parties on one evening: the engagement party that prissy Celia has always dreamed of; an all-girl affair for Phoebe, a gorgeous, intimidating lesbian; and hippie chick Cath’s theme party, where everyone assumes characters from the Alice books and eats plenty of magic tarts. After being humiliated by her husband-to-be, Celia escapes her family and devours some tarts, being mistaken for an ”Alice” at Cath’s party and for a famous feminist at Phoebe’s. Habens’ greatest feat is maintaining Celia’s hilarious, drug-skewed perspective while developing her believable personal awakening. Surely one of the finest, most inventive fiction debuts of the year.