Monday, May 21, 2007

The Woman in the Wall, by Patrice Kindl

Like her father, Anna had an uncanny ability when she was little to blend into her surroundings and completely disappear (her father's talents were so great that he disappeared altogether some years ago). Combined with intense shyness, Anna is a perfect wallflower. Unable to deal with crowds and strangers, Anna spends her time alone developing skills with her hands (carpentry, embroidery, sewing, etc.). At the age of seven, in order to avoid being sent to school, she hides away from her family through a complex series of passageways that she builds in the house. For seven years, she lives in this alternate world safe and secure, but now her haven is threatened and she may have to confront all of her fears.

This novel works beautifully on two levels simultaneously. As a fantasy book, the story is entertaining and engrossing. But the book is also a fable and an analogy for growing up as Anna goes from caterpillar to brilliant moth after years in her caccoon. A stunning achievement in such a modest story.

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