Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis is a strained, disjointed mix of folktale, fantasy and horror from the award-winning author of Marked by Fire . From its opening scenewhere in mythic tones the conversations between a wise tarantula and infant Meggie Alexander are recordedto the closing scene of a spider's web triggering the lesson learned, this is supposed to be the classic search for inner and outer lives by an adolescent. In her inner world, Meggie has music and the faint recollection of a spider's wisdom; this has made her both the seeker and the object of the danger in her town. Young people are disappearing, and when one of Meggie's friends dies, she is determined to root out the evil and destroy it before it gets her. With a small band of friends Meggie courts the kidnappers and is captured; the purpose behind the kidnapping the reader has known all along. Unfortunately, the grafting of fantasy and mystery onto a standard horror plot simply does not work and the variations in point of view are often confusing. Ages 12-up. (October)
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 7-10 Meggie was blessed as an infant when a tarantula paid regular visits to her cradle to spin stories for her education and entertainment. Sixteen years later she finds herself caught in a web of terror as her teenage acquaintances are kidnapped and/or gruesomely murdered in woods that she frequents. In her efforts to investigate, she finds herself a victim in the fiendish plot of three old men (one her former high-school teacher) to restore their youth through the transplants of young hearts. This discordant mixture of fantasy and mystery is composed of too many elements that never blend successfully. The whimsy of the prologue is jarring when juxtaposed with the violence and bitterness of the ensuing chapters. The plot is absurdly illogical and fraught with inconsistencies and coincidence. Characterization is uneven: while Meggie is quite complex, others are caricatures of evil or mere sketches to supplement the cast. The language is artificial with a distorted syntax that becomes intrusive and confusing, and Thomas' imagery, which was so powerfully evocative and genuine in Marked by Fire (Avon, 1982), is overwrought and muddled here. A disappointment to fans of both genres. Starr LaTronica, North Berkeley Library, Calif.
- Scholastic, Inc.
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