Candlewick Press, $19.99, 406 pages
Clever, unique, suspenseful, genius, these words describe Daniel Nayeri’s book Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow, a collection of four stand-alone novellas composed entirely on an iPhone. In “Toy Farm”, a mysterious farmer grows living toys but leaves them to fight evil on their own. This Western tackles questions of humanity. Can a toy have a conscious or experience love? “Our Lady of Villains” is set in a futuristic society where technology is a threat to human survival and a young girl is the people’s main hope. “Wish Police” is an urban detective story with a squad of wish police who lock up wishes that shouldn’t come true. “Doom with a View” is a love story narrated by Death.
Each novella has the depth and content to be developed into full novels. Nayeri could easily write additional material based on these stories. The Young Adult label doesn’t completely fit. Adult readers will find Nayeri’s concepts and themes challenging and engaging, in addition to being extremely entertaining. Nayeri’s writing challenges the reader to re-think how literary genres work. He masters the western, fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tale and adds his own spin on the familiar writing styles.