Despite the title, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets, is not a book about how to provide care and comfort to an unorthodox choice of pet. You won’t find this one in your local pet store!

Instead, it is an intense, creepy, novel about a woman who is kidnapped by a man who owns a gigantic iguana. Diana Wagman does an excellent job of getting into her characters heads, frightening the reader, and building the intensity of the story as it goes on.

I want to take a minute to talk about the cover art. At first glance, the white letters of the title (and the name of the author) pop out. It took a bit longer to see the huge, green, iguana, ominously curling around the title.

Winnie is thirty-eight-years old, divorced, and sort of lost. Her husband, Jonathan, left her for a younger woman. Winnie and their daughter Lacy, still live in the home Lacy grew up in. But, things are different now.

Jonathan is a somewhat-famous TV game show host. He left Winnie for a twenty-something woman who was a contestant on the show. Jonathan and Winnie are still in touch, in part because they are sharing custody of their daughter.

Lacy is a teenager who has become rebellious, and is starting to get in trouble at school. Winnie believes Lacy has started smoking.

Winnie wants to still be married. She wanted to grow old with someone. The life she is living now doesn’t feel right to her. As such, she has gone from being a person who kept a tidy home to one who has lost interest in doing laundry.

After dropping Lacy at school, Winnie takes her car to the shop for repairs. She is dressed in a tennis outfit (that needs washing). She waits outside for the vehicle that is supposed to take her to where she can obtain a rental car. After getting one, she has plans to go to her tennis lesson.

Winnie’s thoughts are a mile away. A car pulls up and stops in front of her. She gets in, without thinking much about it. Slowly, she learns that the man driving the car has no connection to the repair shop or the rental company.

This is where the tension starts building. The man who kidnapped Winnie is very troubled. He owns a gigantic, male iguana, which lives in his kitchen. The iguana is ready to mate, and is uncomfortable and irritable. The entire house is kept at a stiflingly hot temperature, for the iguana’s benefit. How can Winnie escape?

I spent much of the book wondering if the iguana would eat Winnie. The story gives readers little clues, slowly, that make connections that were not immediately apparent.

I’m not going to tell you how it ends. What I will says is this book is intense, and scary, and includes violence. Diana Wagman did an excellent job of making the characters, even the unlikable ones, very real.

The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets – by Diana Wagman is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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