cover image Jane, Unlimited

Jane, Unlimited

Kristin Cashore. Penguin/Dawson, $18.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4149-2

Cashore’s first novel in four years covers an eventful weekend in the life of 18-year-old Jane, an orphan raised by an aunt whose recent death has left her niece unmoored. When a former tutor, Kiran, invites Jane to her family’s island mansion, Tu Reviens, Jane accepts, arriving with everything she owns, including 37 handmade umbrellas. A cast of guests, servants, Kiran’s twin, and a basset hound is quickly introduced, as are a raft of suspicious activities. The story then restarts five times in five genres—spy thriller, horror, science fiction, mystery, fantasy—sometimes repeating information verbatim from a previous section. Each new version is a little weirder than the last, and the overall effect is less Choose Your Own Adventure than Groundhog Day on acid, set within a framework that pays homage to several classic novels, most notably Du Maurier’s Rebecca. These shifts require a reader patient enough to follow the story’s many contradictions until Jane discovers why she’s at Tu Reviens and, ultimately, what she wants. An ambitious departure for Cashore that will reward (and perhaps demand) many re-readings. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Sept.)