Punk street kid Cass runs away with sheltered pianist Maia in the lyrical stand-alone prequel to All Our Pretty Songs (2013).
The intimate third-person narrative perspective alternates fluidly between the two girls’ voices, as well as between “Now”—as the girls take a breathless, speed-fueled road trip down the West Coast—and “Then”—as they become friends and Maia decides to leave her stifling, sterile home. Readers of All Our Pretty Songs will know that Cass and Maia retain their close bond as adults, that both have daughters and that Maia, after a tragedy, stays lost in a drugged haze. But these fates are only gently alluded to here. Instead, readers see a skeletal red-eyed Hades figure, grimly recognizable even to readers unfamiliar with Cass and Maia’s futures. He haunts Cass’ dreams, demanding a terrible bargain and waiting with an eerie patience until Cass is vulnerable enough to give him what he asks. The prose is exquisitely crafted, moving effortlessly from dizzying to heartbreaking. Each setting—an exhaustingly filthy punk house, the New York street where Maia’s hermitlike father suddenly comes to life, the Mexican beach town where the girls’ road trip ends—is vibrantly constructed through careful detail and spare but evocative prose.
A breathtaking companion volume, fully readable on its own and devastating in the context of its predecessor. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)