In Lourie’s (Wizards and Warriors of Kriatha, 2012) latest novel, a mute 6-year-old observes the lives around her and tackles a mystery.
The suburbs of Brisbane, a charming Australian city, might seem ordinary, but for one girl named Evie, her neighborhood in Norman Park is a parade of endless fascination. Evie temporarily lost her power of speech due to a fall which damaged her larynx. Forced into silence, the girl becomes a sharp-eyed observer, quick to see the everyday magic in the world around her. From Evie’s point of view, we meet women like Mrs. Moorhouse, a compulsive cleaner whom Evie renames “The Fadeaway Lady” due to her predilection for muted colors. She encounters Rose Harkness, a kind, generous woman who introduces Evie to her first Shakespeare play and later presents her with the Bard’s complete works as a gift; even after Evie’s sister draws and scribbles on the book’s pages, it remains “a thing of beauty” to Evie. However, the child is frightened of Mrs. Edith Diamond, a grieving widow whom the child nicknames “the Wicked Witch of the Parade.” Evie’s neighbors gossip constantly, but at least initially, it seems that they have few worries in their quaint surroundings. But when Rose is suddenly accused of murder, Evie’s cleareyed observations become crucial to solving the mystery. Lourie offers a colorful, original tale, and Evie’s observations highlight the freshness of a child’s perspective. Overall, the novel delivers a highly readable, engaging story, rich with zany neighbors and an intriguing mystery. With Evie as narrator, the hidden secrets of the suburbs truly come alive.
A fun, unique novel, engagingly told from a child’s perspective.