What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Having read Boy, Snow, Bird, I knew I was in for a wild ride with Helen Oyeyemi's What is Not Yours is Not Yours. This collection of short stories weaves in characters across each plot line, challenging the reader to keep up in its storytelling. While some books I read seem built simply for pleasure and ease, this both challenges your reality and smoothly places you in her fantasy - worlds where puppets have their own thoughts and keys worn for years fit unknown locks. 

Indeed, keys and locks form her stories' theme - each one surfacing some mystery that requires opening. It establishes possibility - a realized surreal sense of reality that leaves you tickled with wonder at how easy it is to unlock your imagination. 

One of my favorite shorts stories was, 'A Brief History of the Homely Wench Society', which focuses on a gang of self-perceived less attractive university women who band together against the fraternity boys who are presumed to seek beautiful tokens by their side. As a prank, they use a stolen key (ah-ha!) to enter the frat house and replace their predominantly male-authored books with books authored by women. I have never wanted to be part of a club more.

...Gustav walked onstage to the sound of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. As he did the puppets’ chairs turned, and after that everything compressed into a split second; we saw that every single one of the puppets’ throats had been slashed wide open so that they erupted strings; they’d been hacked at so savagely that even those internal strings were cut. And when Gustav saw them he lost consciousness. He didn’t collapse, exactly—it was more as if he’d been dropped from a height. He fell plank straight, and without making a sound, and that fall of his was just as unreal to us as the glazed eyes with which the puppets onstage surveyed their own innards.
— Helen Oyeyemi, What is Not Yours is Not Yours

Another rewarding story was called 'Books and Roses', contextualized by the April 23 Catalan holiday where lovers exchange books and roses. But, naturally, there are keys that lead the characters to rooms full of books and rooms full of roses. And that is the least interesting part. It is the stories of how each character came across these keys that leaves you in awe.

Oyeyemi is daring and talented. While there was some critique that this book was too complex, I would remind you, the reader, to consider this book golden, metal, shaped uniquely to fit securely into your skull and to turn the mechanics inside.