Eckhardt (The Remedy Files: Illusion, 2014) creates colorful worlds, from bleak to bright, in this surreal, slightly hallucinatory novella about an abducted woman, possibly magical fireflies, and an enigmatic spiritual guide.
Evaline watches a firefly splatter on the windshield of her car as it crashes. Then she wakes up in a strange world of darkness. The first person—entity, really—she meets there is the Sun. When asked what she was searching for, Evaline says, “a place I feel safe and happy…a real home.” Agreeing to help her, the Sun transports her to a series of different worlds. The first is Nogmestead, an idyllic country town that conceals a malicious totalitarian edge. Just as Evaline finds friends in local mediator Namaste Majie and librarian Bookend Rasha, she is forced to flee and wakes up in another realm, the land up in the sky. There, she meets FeFe, the woman who paints the sky, and learns the secret power of imagination that will allow Evaline to do the same. The next time Evaline sleeps, she wakes in the sea of fishes, where she finds something that just might one day lead her to her one true love. Finally, the Sun appears to Evaline again and she must make a choice: where will she call home and, more importantly, who will she be? Evaline’s story is a short one filled with colorful allegory, unique characters, and solid, sometimes-pretty prose. The episodes that make up the main thrust of the plot are relatively simple, leaving much to be desired in terms of a thoughtful, challenging allegory. Evaline’s journey isn’t terribly surprising or philosophical, either. The surreal, beautifully described opening is one of the book’s strongest moments. Unfortunately, the subsequent magical lands don’t reach that initial spark.
A light, fast read that provides equal measures of quirky fun and heavy-handed allegory, though it struggles to transport readers as easily as it shuffles around its main character.