Tatterdemalion

Sylvia V. Linsteadt, illus. by Rima Staines. Unbound, $26.95 (224) ISBN 978-1-78352-329-0
Linsteadt’s ambitious, elegiac first novel is inspired by Staines’s fanciful paintings. In northern California, various forms of community and culture spring up after a mid-21st-century collapse, centered around magic deeply tied to the ecology of the area. The young boy Poppy finds a massive, speaking creature with wheels; monks called Bells, Perches, and Boots seek the ideal forms of the things they’ve taken as their names; a bereft girl transforms into an owl. The threads come together in a remarkable expression of the preciousness of the natural life of the Sierra Nevadas. The book has one major flaw: though the setting is indisputably California, the illustrations are strongly influenced by European folk art, and major story elements draw principally from European myths and fairy tales. The disjunction from the native history of California undermines the theme of returning to roots and learning to cooperate with the repressed. Nonetheless, this is a heartfelt and effective mix of old lore, current anxieties, and the possibilities of the future. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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