by Margaret Mahy
I read this and started to copy down the opening line and then I was in hurry and it was long and so I didn’t, thinking that I could find it on the internet. And I cannot. So if you happen to have a copy and wouldn’t mind giving me the opening line, I would really appreciate it. My angst is all the worse because it was a great beginning and a lovely example of Mahy’s prose and I wanted to quote it.
Edit: Catherine helpfully supplied it: “Although the label on the hair shampoo said Paris and had a picture of a beautiful girl with the Eiffel Tower behind her bare shoulder, it was forced to tell the truth in tiny print under the picture. Made in New Zealand, it said, Wisdom Laboratories, Paraparaumu.”
And I’m so glad I did. Lest I keep anyone in suspense, I absolutely adored it. I could see some people being slightly put-off by parts of the romance–but I wasn’t. I could see some people being seriously creeped out by the supernatural bits–but I was deliciously creeped out in the “oh, I can’t stop reading this” way.
Laura Chant knows that Sorry Carlisle is a witch. She couldn’t say exactly how she knows this, anymore than she can say exactly how she knows that bad things are going to happen when she gets up in the morning. But when something strange happens to her little brother Jacko, she turns to Sorry for help, despite the fact that he’s a prefect and pretends to be perfect.
Laura is one of my favorite types of heroine: very quiet, without any Dramatic Heroics, but very quietly powerful. She doesn’t need to go trumpeting around and waving a sword* to be strong and to do things. Although the book isn’t in first person, it very much feels like hers, and I enjoyed her voice very much indeed.
Sorry was also delightful. I love the fact that he can’t choose whether to be a hero or a villain–and I love the ending on about three different levels, all of which are seriously spoilery, so I will discuss them in the comments if anyone wants. Though in some ways he seems sort of stereotypical, in other ways he completely defies expectations. For one thing, while he’s far from passive, he’s also sort of secondary. And anyway, yes I loved him. I love his rings and coat too, which reminded me of Howl and Gen and Crestomanci (clearly in good company there).
And actually the romantic relationship here is a bit like all of those three I just mentioned. It most definitely has its own flavor, but somehow it falls into that umbrella. And I love that.
The writing is beautiful–sort of dreamy and yet very grounded in the real, modern world. This is definitely a book which I’ll be revisiting again.
* This isn’t necessarily meant as a disparagement to sword-waving heroines. I love me some Blue Sword, you know? It’s just that I think the Laura-types are in some ways more applicable to the real world. And as someone with no sword-waving abilities, it’s reassuring.