The first thing that struck me about Marcy Dermansky’s novel Bad Marie was the voice: narrator Marie has a blunt, sometimes crude self-presentation that is somehow edgy and endearing at once—even at her worst, when she’s making foolish, dangerous, selfish decisions, I couldn’t help but root for her. And make bad decisions she does, in pursuit of a fantasy life that doesn’t seem particularly defined even for her. In a way, Bad Marie is a novel built on the kinds of familiar fantasies, coincidences, and unlikely events that have long been the stuff of fiction and even fairy tales. So as Marie herself guides her life by a novel (and novelist) she’s fallen in love with, we readers suspend our own disbelief because Marie the character is so compelling—far more so on the page than a person like Marie might be in real life. That contradiction is what I enjoyed most in this novel: it’s both the classic fantasy of fiction and a criticism of that fantasy at the same time, as gripping emotionally as it is intellectually. And the ending—which I won’t spoil here—sharpens the teeth of that criticism so powerfully, indicting the whole questionable notion of “escape” so much of our fiction relies on, not to mention those of us more than than willing to indulge it.