THE TRICKSTERS by Margaret Mahy
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In a richly textured psychological ghost story set at the summer solstice and Christmas, New Zealand's two-time Carnegie-winner delivers another fascinating novel that defies summarization. When the Hamilton's large, extended family returns to their seaside house, Carnival's Hide, the younger children ritually report their arrival to Teddy Carnival, ghost of the builder's son, drowned three generations ago. A trio of brothers arrive claiming to be Carnival descendants; accepted at face value by most of the family, they are recognized by middle child and budding novelist Harry (Ariadne) as the ghosts of Teddy's multiple personalities--Ovid (mind, a master of metamorphoses); Hadfield (instinct--al one point he tries to rape Harry): and Felix (the heart, submerged in life but striving toward dominance in the course of the story; he and Harry fall in love). An array of other love relationships, both lifelong and transitory, are transformed during the tricksters' appearance: Harry, especially, moves from a childish romanticism to a more mature understanding, although she has always been the quiet observer who has understood the drama around her better than its participants. Mahy fills her stories with insights illumined by their contexts: "Have I made love with a ghost'?" . . ."It's what writers do, isn't it?" Her names are suggestive; her characters are as original and individual as any in print--bitchy eldest child Christobel Hamilton, manipulative charmer, is particularly vivid; it's she who learns that ". . .the real trick is to use the tricks, but never forget the truth"--because, in this spellbinding tapestry of people and ideas, mystery and concealed parentage, there are many more tricksters than the surprisingly corporeal ghosts.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0689829108
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1987


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