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From The CriticsRice's first novel is an affecting study of innocence lost and regained. Rex Williamson, a well-meaning drunk in search of fortune, relocates his family from England to Lightning Ridge, Australia, in order to mine for opals. His eight-year-old daughter Kellyanne's two best friends, Pobby and Dingan, disappear in the opal mines after Rex invites them along for the day. The disappearance of her "maybe-dead" friends is complicated by one insurmountable factor: Pobby and Dingan are imaginary. Kellyanne grows increasingly despondent over her loss until her brother Ashmol, the story's narrator, begrudgingly rallies the troops of the town in search of the invisible duo. Kellyanne's belief in her imaginary friends parallels the Williamsons' dire faith in finding the yet-unseen opals. In Lightning Ridge, Rice has created an enchanting fictional world that lives and breathes, as Ashmol's adolescent digressions exhibit the author's knack for unforgettable characters. The book, which invokes a sense of innocence, beautifully articulates childhood's life-changing moments.
—Ann B. Stephenson