cover image No Such Country

No Such Country

Gary Crew. Simon & Schuster, $15 (248pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79760-7

Like Crew's masterfully bizarre Strange Objects , this story devolves in the weird, sunblasted landscape of coastal Australia. This time, however, the author falters a bit in blending the paranormal with the prosaic, and his narrative swerves uneasily between a supernatural Down Under Handmaid's Tale and a somewhat predictable YA coming-of-age mystery. Strange signs, intelligible only to ``the Father,'' appear in New Canaan, culminating in Rachel's mother's death and the mute depression of the mother of best friend Sarah. Born on the same day and the loan female survivors of the town's ill-fated offspring, the girls are further united by their desire to escape the stultifying drudgery and subservience to the Father that are the lot of women in the isolated fishing village. Rachel befriends Sam Shadows, an anthropology student who, in exploring an aboriginal shell midden, uncovers secrets of the past that ignite an apocalyptic chain of events. Crew drops clues portentously, but the splendidly evoked setting takes the onus off the obvious plot machinations. Ages 12-up. (June)