Liga is a young peasant girl of no consequence. Abused by her father (who plies her with potions to induce miscarriages that destroy all evidence of his shame), then raped by callous youths, she has two beautiful babies. One day she is saved by natural magic and, in exchange for her earthly life, her world is changed into her own personal Heaven, ...
Liga is a young peasant girl of no consequence. Abused by her father (who plies her with potions to induce miscarriages that destroy all evidence of his shame), then raped by callous youths, she has two beautiful babies. One day she is saved by natural magic and, in exchange for her earthly life, her world is changed into her own personal Heaven, given to her by natural magic. Safe in this nurturing world, Liga builds a life of loving domesticity for her daughters, gentle Branza and curious Urdda, who grow up there, protected from all that once harmed Liga. But back in the real world, hedge-witch Muddy Annie, begged by a desperate, debt-ridden friend, tries sending him to his own Heaven. Her botched attempt puts him instead into the world of Liga and her daughters, and gives him on arrival the power to turn wildflowers to coins, frog-eggs to pearls, tiny birds to precious stones and to pass back into the real world with the wealth he gathers. But his numerous journeys create perforations in the skin between the real world and the magic world. Although these generally have no effect, on Bear Day every spring the fur-costumed Bears running the ritual chase through the village sometimes tumble through, transformed from lusty young men into real, wild bears in Liga's Heaven.
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Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, New York, NY
Publishers Weekly, 2008-09-08 In her extraordinary and often dark first novel, award-winning story writer Lanagan (Red Spikes) creates two worlds: the first a preindustrial village that might have sprung from a Brueghel canvas, a place of victims and victimizers; the second a personal heaven granted to Liga Longfield, who has survived her father's molestations and a gang rape but, with one baby and pregnant again, cannot risk any further pain. As she raises her two daughters, placid Branza and fiery Urdda, she discovers that her universe is permeable: a dwarf or "littlee man," in Lanagan's characteristically knotted parlance, slips in and out of her world in search of treasure; and a good-hearted youth also enters, magically transformed into a bear in the process. A less kind man-bear follows, and then a teenage Urdda, avid for a richer life with the "vivid people," figures out how to pass through the border, too. Writing in thick, clotted prose that holds the reader to a slow pace, Lanagan explores the savage and the gentlest sides of human nature, and how they coexist. With suggestions of bestiality and sodomy, the novel demands maturity--but the challenging text will attract only an ambitious audience anyway. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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