Julianne Pachico’s third novel, Jungle House, is a bewildering and compelling novel that explores the tensions between town and country, danger and safety, rich and poor, and above all the human and the non-human. Jungle House is owned by the Morel family, who visit with decreasing regularity and have all but abandoned it to the hands of Lena, its human caretaker. Lena, who was found in the jungle as a baby, has been raised by Mother, who is Jungle House’s AI housekeeper, and her handmaiden robots, Silvana and Alfonso. For Mother, Jungle House is a lifelong burden: it tends towards decay and is susceptible to mould, moss, fungal spores, various types of unwanted nest, centipedes, bats and possums. It seems to Mother that life at the helm of Jungle House is much harder than it is at haughty Mountain House, the Morels’ other holiday residence, or at mollycoddled City House. The unnamed Colombian jungle that surrounds the house is bathed in sunlight and alive with wildlife and foliage, but it is also laden with rebel threats and spectral signs of the labours of ecological activists and forgotten native communities. Mother, who seems to be fraying at the edges, lives in
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