Books by Winifred Elze

HERE, KITTY, KITTY by Winifred Elze
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1996

Stronger and more adult fantasy than Elze's Milquetoast debut novel, The Changeling Garden (1995), but still something for the ladies of the garden club. Emma and Max, her cartoonist husband, summer on the shore of an Adirondack lake with a small island just offshore. As the story opens, Emma is becoming concerned about the peculiar behavior of her cat, Billie, through whose eyes many of the more imaginative parts of the novel are told. The summer before, Emma's father had died on the island, savaged by some unknown beast. He'd been building a time-machine, powered by solar energy, that has now begun functioning, intermittently opening small doors in time invisible at first to everyone but the cat. Billie has discovered that she can leap through a door near her front lawn and land on the island. Other doors on the island begin to allow huge six-foot beavers, great sabertooth cats, woolly mammoths, and huge wolves to enter our world. Emma is the first person to see them, and is ridiculed until a fellow animal-lover manages to tranquilize a sabertooth, one of the several creatures, it turns out, that are emerging from a two-million-acre virgin forest from the Pleistocene Age. A restaurant owner is killed by a wolf, which is later shot, and the townsfolk realize, when they begin to explore, that they are the dazed owners of a kind of gateway to a preStone Age Disney World. Emma, however, is less concerned with money than with preserving the animals. On a solo visit to the island, she walks through a doorway and finds herself among Stone Age early humans, marooned until the fickle time machine begins to function again. The climax is reminiscent of the recent film Jumanji, featuring troops of extinct beasts traipsing through civilization. Mild fare. Read full book review >
THE CHANGELING GARDEN by Winifred Elze
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 14, 1995

Mild horror fantasy and first novel telling of a big garden in tune with the Brazilian rain forests and a vanished Mayan civilization. Annie, Mark, and five-year-old David move into an old Victorian house sold to them with a proviso—namely, that they keep up the garden and not sell it to the bank for paving over into a parking lot. When the bank makes a big offer, Annie refuses, though Mark wants to sell. Meanwhile, several women in the community are murdered with arrows and have their hearts torn out. Mark, often away on business when the murders happen and an archer in college, falls under his wife's suspicion; little David starts communing with the garden, which talks to him; and Annie finds herself entering the mind of an owl. She also grows fearful of burly biker Harley Baer, from the start a flat-out villain who hangs around and wants to rent the dusty old garage apartment. Is Harley the murderer or simply the golem for a Toltec spirit who wants to waste the planet, starting locally with paving over the garden? Annie falls in with Mariah, an herbalist with a family book going back countless centuries and filled with magical plant nostrums; a friendly Mayan priest arrives by astral means and protects Annie and David from the monstrous Toltec; and so on. Although a thinking garden that speaks for the rain forest and is peopled with Indian astrals is a pleasant conceit, nothing's ever very real here: The many grisly murders—even of the family's teenage baby-sitter— never attract the massive journalistic invasion we'd expect, and the dialogue simply urges the story along without reflecting the profound emotional responses the deaths would seemingly evoke. Like an older YA horror novel or a marriage of The Secret Garden and Rosemary's Baby. May the gladiolas protect you, and watch out for chestnut trees throwing burrs. Read full book review >