Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Ghost's Child

by Sonya Hartnett

Dedication: "For Julie Watts"

First paragraph: "One damp silvery afternoon an old lady came home from walking her dog and found a boy sitting in her lounge room on the floral settee. The boy hadn't been invited, so the old lady was surprised to see him. It wasn't a large boy, and he looked annoyed and bored, as if he had been waiting for her for some time. The lounge room was cold, and the tip of his nose had turned softly pink, which made the old lady feel sorry for him. 'You should have lit the fire,' she said, and pressed a button and twisted a dial, causing flames to jump up like cancan dancers inside the silver chest of the heater. Her guest didn't answer, but looked more aggrieved: being a boy of a certain age, he had a taste for suffering manfully, and preferred not to be given advice. 'Would you like a cup of tea?' she asked him. 'I'm about to make a pot.'"

Review: An old woman arrives home one day to find a boy waiting on her floral settee. As they visit over tea, she tells the stranger of her life long ago, when she was known as Maddy and longed for a future as enchanting as a fairy tale. In her story, young Maddy falls desperately in love with Feather, a boy "tousled and tameless as a flash of lightning," and they live happily in a little cottage by the sea. But one day Feather doesn't come home, and Maddy must follow him on a fantastical journey across the waves, seeking the answer to a burning question.

I was about 70 pages in and I thought I knew exactly what my review would say: "Boring". But once Maddy quit describing every little thing that she had seen or experienced at different points in her young childhood (and I'm talking pages of things listed one after the other) it got better.

This still wasn't a fascinating read by any means but there were things that I connected with, the imaginings of a young girl trying to make her life into a fantasy. And that is exactly what Maddy's life was--half fairy tale and half reality.

I think my favorite part was how difficult it was to discern which parts were her imagination and which parts really happened.

My only other complaint is the passage of time. There are parts when I could have sworn 4 or 5 years had passed with all the things they were doing and how she described the time passing and then suddenly it's only a year later.

That sort of things rips me out of the story. It's hard to be immersed in something when you can't get a grasp on how quickly things are unfolding.

I wouldn't really suggest this book to anyone. If you happened to be bored and grabbed it at the library because the book cover looked interesting, then you might as well give it a shot but ...I've read much better.

Oh, also. I think the title is sort of a huge spoiler alert - which I don't find to be a good thing. Or maybe I'm just brilliant and no one else will figure it out.

1 comment:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Whoa. This sounds really unique.