“Aurora and I live in a world without fathers,” the unnamed narrator explains at the opening of this lush, spooky contemporary fairy tale.
Instead, the two girls have a passionate sisterhood, formed in childhood and continued long after their mothers—for reasons the girls don’t yet know—stopped speaking to each other. When the girls meet Jack, a spellbindingly moving guitarist, the narrator is shocked and delighted to find he is as entranced by her as she is by him. The cast is racially diverse (the narrator is one of the few central figures who is white), and the narrator’s relationship with Jack never overshadows her other intimate connections: with her mystically inclined mother, Cass; with Aurora’s mother, Maia, too often high on heroin to be an effective parent; with Raoul, the friend from work who serves as a mentor; and most notably, with Aurora, passionate, outgoing, fragile and often in need of the narrator’s care. So vividly rendered is this network of relationships that when Aurora and Jack decide to walk a path the narrator cannot follow, the devastation is palpable. Despite an occasional lapse (it is unclear whether an amulet Cass gives the narrator for protection is on or off during a few relevant scenes), the characters and landscapes come to life through careful detail and precise, poetic language.
Haunting, otherworldly and heartbreaking. (Urban fantasy. 14 & up)