Claire Molyneaux is a beautiful, musically gifted seventeen year old… who has just been kicked out of her house. This is a new take on the evil stepmother trope of fairytales. Claire’s problems are with her actual mom, a woman so troubled by her own past that she is incapable of treating her daughter rationally. She completely cuts off poor Claire, and the only negative emotion she feels is worry that her friends will find out and exclude her from their upper crust social circle. This mother is not evil, per say, but she has definitely got her priorities confused.
Claire, on the other hand, is delightful. As your fairytale protagonist, she is young, charming, kind, hardworking, and grateful. She grows into these last two traits, however, as her unfortunate circumstances change her outlook on life. Before her mother’s meltdown, Claire seemed a bit spoiled. Being left to her own devices forces her to appreciate the smallest acts of generosity and the simple fact of a place to sleep at night.
Perhaps the most interesting character, however, is not one typically found in fairytales: the unnamed spirit who has become enchanted by Claire. This spirit was once human but is now incorporeal, trying with limited success to influence the other characters’ behaviors and doing so while finding out about his own life. This spirit offers his ideas about Claire and her world while also adding in commentary about our world. His part in the story is unexpected, mysterious, and satisfying.
However, his descriptions of Claire sometimes veer into the uncomfortable. He frequently sexualizes the not-yet-legal leading lady, describing her as lithe and supple. With all of the mentions of Claire’s beauty, the fact that she is not a stellar student is the only thing keeping her from being boringly perfect.
While this book is flawed (the timeline is confusing, and some of the characters’ actions do not make sense – for example, no one thinks of reporting Claire’s mom to the police), Kirkwood does present an exciting, fully-realized world. The cast of characters includes a gambling nun, a math professor- drag-queen, and Claire’s best friend, a straight-A student who really wants to be a rapper. Everyone’s story is explored, creating a more fulfilling tale. Kirkwood’s prose is lush, and the descriptions of Mardi Gras are intoxicating. I am left slightly confused, but delighted.
|Author||M. A. Kirkwood|
|Page Count||282 pages|
|Publisher||Spirit Star Press|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|