House of Transformation by Astrea Taylor

House of Transformation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young, troubled celebrity turns to a friend for salvation.

Pop star Ananda Dawn crashes her rental car into the Eiffel Tower. She is immediately swarmed by paparazzi, and suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs. She charms her way out of a difficult bind, but immediately flies back to the United States to seek out the companionship of her estranged friend, Margaret “Mag” Woods. Years earlier, Ananda’s biography, written by her manager, painted a bacchanalia-inspired picture of Mag’s friendship with the singer, which included unrestrained promiscuity and rampant drug use. The scandal that ensued nearly ended Mag’s career as a therapist. Ananda, who wants to mend fences and revive the friendship, furtively drugs Mag’s tea, calls her boss and quits on her behalf, and convinces her to become the star’s manager. Mag accepts the position on the condition that Ananda seek professional help for her drug addiction. Looming in the background is the fact that Mag has just written an unflattering book about Ananda, soon to be published by a major press outlet. Meanwhile, Mag feels torn between becoming a fully responsible adult and indulging a wilder side that not only craves spontaneity, but also artistic fulfillment: “My creative brain burst to life while my rational brain loosened its vise-like grip. I’d spent years sharpening it, and then it became the least important thing in the world.” Debut author Taylor writes with a punchy flair, and manages to conjure a protagonist both infuriating and beguiling simultaneously. Mag turns out to be a fascinatingly complex character as well. Her creative ambition—and a sorrowful loss experienced at the height of the women’s friendship—constitutes the powerful bond between the two, who turn out to have a deeper kinship than one initially suspects. The plot, problematically, is sometimes a bit contrived, and will likely elicit the reader’s incredulity. For example, Mag is weirdly unperturbed by the fact that she was drugged, and inexplicably ready to ditch her career at a moment’s notice. She also seems aggrieved by her loss of professional credibility, but the book she writes to vindicate herself seems destined to only exacerbate the problem. The intelligently crafted characters—and the nuanced relationships between them—compensate for these failings.

An entertaining and thoughtful account of loss and artistic ambition.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5188-2759-4
Page count: 403pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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