The Girl in the White Cape: A Novel
The Girl in the White Cape by Barbara Sapienza is a unique fantasy novel about a young girl named Elena. The story begins when she is fifteen years old, and the reader learns she was left by her mother as an infant. Left only with a note and a doll named Kukla, Elena repeats the words of her birth mother’s letter until she knows them by heart: “If you are ever in trouble, give the doll something to eat and ask its advice. It will take your food and tell you what to do.” Raised by a Catholic priest, Father Al, and homeschooled by her eccentric grandmother, Baba Vera, one of Elena’s only companions is her trusty doll. who often helps her with her work.
Elena does not quite understand how Kukla helps her complete tasks. However, she always seems to give Elena the guidance, strength, and courage to do whatever she is faced with. With the help of Kukla, Elena has almost supernatural abilities, able to finish jobs she would not be able to do individually otherwise. A secret to everyone except her trusted guardian, Father Al, Elena consults her doll almost daily as she attempts to do the many difficult things Baba Vera asks her to do.
One day, a distraught and disheveled woman comes to the doors of Father Al’s church. As Elena hears her shouting and fighting with him, she is uneasy. With a sort of foreboding feeling, she knows this woman is here to cause an unwanted change in their otherwise peaceful life. Sensing that something is wrong, she consults Baba Vera, who suspiciously and eerily seems to always know all.
Not to Elena’s surprise, however, Baba Vera will not tell Elena what is going on. So, the reader follows Elena in unraveling this mystery on her own, to discover who this strange woman is, and what she wants to enact in all of their lives.
As stated previously, I found The Girl in the White Cape to be a very unique novel. Never before had I read a fantasy novel with such a different plotline. Sapienza wrote Elena’s character to be old-fashioned, not present-day like her fellow teenagers and neighbors living in 2020. Because of this, there is an interesting dynamic of division: Elena’s pre-20th century personality with the modernism of other characters. It created a different tone for the novel, which I found to be a nice change from the normality of fantasy storylines.
As a whole, I enjoyed reading this novel. Given Elena’s age and struggles, I think the most applicable age group I would recommend is for late middle school to teenage readers.
|Page Count||256 pages|
|Publisher||She Writes Press|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|