Book Review: Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Title: Down the Rabbit Hole

Author: Juan Pablo Villalobos

Genre: Literary Novella

Number of Pages: 70

Rating: A-

Recommended? Yes

Down the Rabbit Hole is a strange, haunting novella told from the perspective of Totchli, a sickly nine-year-old boy who lives in a palace with his drug kingpin father. ‘Precocious’ Totchli shares an overwhelming desire to own an endangered Liberian Pygmy Hippopotamus to go his father’s personal zoo (the caged lions and tigers are good for getting rid of pesky human remains.)

Totchli is isolated from the outside world and has a personal staff waiting on his every need. He is largely desensitized from the violence that is an integral part of his daily life and is largely desensitized, and has become a stone-cold little gangsta by the age of nine. I loved how unique and engaging this character’s narrative voice was.

He’s totally unlike any child narrator I have ever encountered, ruthless and sometimes, despite himself, vulnerable. He dishes out homophobic slurs like Eminem and loves collecting dozens and dozens of hats, provided by his exorbitantly wealthy father.

The book’s setting was very unique as well. It was crazy thinking about a little kid growing up like this, so privileged yet so deprived. This is a very short book that can be easily read in one day, painting a vivid picture of a little boy for whom the unimaginable is mundane and everyday.

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