THE WOMAN WHO LIVES IN THE EARTH by Swain Wolfe

THE WOMAN WHO LIVES IN THE EARTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Montana filmmaker Wolfe debuts with a wondrously mythicized short first novel breathing Jungian archetypes and ringing with marvels. Not much helps the reader come to grips with what happens beneath the level of conscious artifice here, with a plot that's intentionally supra-rational, prose like night air, and characters running about in fantastical Boschian animal masks to ward off demons. Near the folk of Henrytown, who have dried up in their souls, the child Sarah lives on a farm with her father Aesa, a smith who makes knives and hinges, and her mother Ada, who has ``milkmaid's shoulders, large hands, and legs like oaks,'' as well as ``a small smile and playful eyes that challenged silly thoughts.'' Wells on drought-ridden farms all around theirs are drying up and families are disappearing. When Aesa and Ada go many miles off for part of each week to work for much-needed money, Sarah is left alone to tend the farm and the animals with her old and brittle great-grandmother, Lilly. Sarah meets a floating light of consciousness that sometimes takes the form of a shimmering fox- -her spirit-guide--and that calls itself Marishan Borisan (``I think from the middle of my middle. I don't need words, and I'm not a fox''), and teaches her how to turn herself into a flower, a bird, an aspen tree, or even ice. Villagers roundabout, however, thinking that Sarah is the demon causing the drought, harassing her with the Lizard Woman and three thickheaded authority figures on horseback: Kreel, Grayling Eyes, and Henkel. When she flees, they chase her into a dark tower and set it afire. But Sarah shape- shifts, becomes a mist, seeps into the villagers' lungs, and through her temporary martyrdom frees them of their fears and returns them to their elemental roots. Charmed readers in the Hereafter will turn these pages with wise little smiles.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-9634789-1-5
Page count: 153pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995




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