cover image Dangerous Spaces: 9

Dangerous Spaces: 9

Margaret Mahy. Viking Children's Books, $12.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83734-2

Sturdy, earth-bound Flora resents her glamorous cousin. Newly orphaned Anthea has come to live with Flora's family in the house that is haunted by the girls' grandfather, Lionel. Unsure of her place in this chaotic adoptive family, Anthea retreats to Viridian, a strange dream landscape that was created and is inhabited by ghostly Lionel's long-dead younger brother. At first Viridian is a haven for Anthea, and seems more real than her waking life. But later, as her involvement with her new family grows, Anthea's nightly journeys become sinister and even life-threatening. It is fierce and noisy Flora who charges into Viridian, rescues her cousin and puts the family's stray ghosts to rest, at last. Readers with the tenacity to get past the initial tedious and disorienting descriptions of Viridian will find plenty of food for thought in the novel's closing scenes. The last third of the book is filled with the sort of writing Mahy's fans have come to expect: breathtaking adventure combined with honest and memorable insights into the workings of a family. Though it never achieves the seamless merging of magic and drama that characterize The Changeover and The Haunting , this novel will linger in the mind of the reader. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)