cover image The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone

The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone

Audrey Burges. Berkley, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54647-5

In Burges’s lackluster debut, a reclusive Arizona copywriter blogs about a magical dollhouse from her childhood. When Myra Malone was five, she was in a car accident with her grandfather’s partner, Trixie, who died in the crash. Myra inherited Trixie’s dollhouse and went on to lead a hermit-like existence, due in part to the scars on her face from the accident. Trixie had hinted about the dollhouse’s magic to young Myra, and, now in her 30s, Myra maintains a blog that describes the house’s rooms and furniture, which Alex Rakes recognizes as a miniature replica of his childhood home. He and Myra begin corresponding as more is revealed about the not-so-nice Rakes family (Alex’s father is bigoted, his grandmother conniving), their connection to the strange dollhouse (somehow, rooms and furniture appear and then vanish), and other ways that Myra and Alex are linked. Alex’s unpleasant, ailing father, meanwhile, hints that these ties might put Alex in danger. While parts of the plot work, the work is sunk by a plodding pace and a dearth of explanation about what drove the Rakes family’s misdeeds. There’s a fun premise, but overall, this is one to pass. (Jan.)