Walking the Labyrinth

Walking the Labyrinth

by Lisa Goldstein

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497673618
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 524,668
File size: 968 KB

About the Author

Lisa Goldstein has published ten novels and dozens of short stories under her own name and two fantasy novels under the pseudonym Isabel Glass. Her most recent novel is The Uncertain Places, which won the Mythopoeic Award. Goldstein received the National Book Award for The Red Magician and the Sidewise Award for her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden.” Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Some of her stories appear in the collection Travellers in Magic.

Goldstein has worked as a proofreader, library aide, bookseller, and reviewer. She lives with her husband and their overexuberant Labrador retriever, Bonnie, in Oakland, California. Her website is www.brazenhussies.net/goldstein. 

Lisa Goldstein has published ten novels and dozens of short stories under her own name and two fantasy novels under the pseudonym Isabel Glass. Her most recent novel is The Uncertain Places, which won the Mythopoeic Award. Goldstein received the National Book Award for The Red Magician and the Sidewise Award for her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden.” Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Some of her stories appear in the collection Travellers in Magic.

Goldstein has worked as a proofreader, library aide, bookseller, and reviewer. She lives with her husband and their overexuberant Labrador retriever, Bonnie, in Oakland, California. Her website is www.brazenhussies.net/goldstein. 

Read an Excerpt

Walking the Labyrinth


By Lisa Goldstein

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1996 Lisa Goldstein
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-7361-8


CHAPTER 1

Magicians Dazzle


Sixty years later Molly Travers left an office building in downtown Oakland to go to lunch. As she stepped out into the crowded street someone called out, "Ms. Travers?"

Peter? she thought, though Peter would certainly never use her last name. Despite that, she looked around eagerly.

The man who had spoken pushed his way through the crowd. He was medium height, with curly brown hair and a pointed chin. His eyes were set too close together.

She stopped. "Yes?"

"I'd like to ask you a few questions," he said. "Can I buy you lunch?"

"Questions about what?" she asked.

"Your great-aunt."

"My aunt?" she said. "What do you know about my aunt?"

"Your great-aunt Fentrice Allalie." Several people left the building and pushed their way between them. "Can we go somewhere private?"

"Who are you?" she asked.

"My name is John Stow. I'm a private investigator."

"Oh," she said. "Well, I've certainly got nothing to hide. Would the deli be okay with you? It's right down the street."

They stopped at a light. It was a sunny day, after months of rain; the long California drought was finally ending. John Stow squinted at the heavy downtown traffic. The light changed; a chirping sound came from the traffic lights to indicate to the blind that it was safe to cross. They started across the street.

"I should probably ask for some identification," Molly said.

Stow took out his wallet and opened it to a Xerox of his license. "Why are you so interested in my aunt?" Molly asked.

"It's a matter of an inheritance."

"An inheritance? Don't look at me—my aunt had barely enough to live on."

"She raised you, right?"

"You've done your homework."

"Could be she's owed money."

Molly laughed. "I can't imagine."

"Your aunt's brother—"

"Her brother?"

"Yeah."

"Her brother?" Molly said again. She slowed. "Her brother's long dead."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure. He was my grandfather—he died before I was born."

"Well, it seems that someone related to this brother didn't get some money that was owed him."

"Listen, are you sure you have the right person? I don't think my grandfather had any relatives besides my aunt and my parents."

"Pretty sure. There aren't too many people named Fentrice."

"Yeah, but—Who are you working for, anyway?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Then I don't have to answer your questions."

"No, sure. Listen, did your aunt ever say anything about her time on the road?"

Molly hesitated. She had, of course, asked questions about the family history, but Fentrice never talked much about the past. She wasn't going to tell John Stow that, though. "All she ever said was that she had had a pretty wild youth, but that she had given it all up and settled down. She was a touring magician or something."

"The Allalie Family."

"You seem to know more about it than I do. Why don't you ask her?"

"I might do that. I'd like to start with you first, though. She ever say anything about her brother? Your grandfather?"

"Hardly anything. His name was—let me think. Callan, something like that. Callan Allalie."

"Callan, that's right. Anything else?"

"Not that I can remember."

They went into the deli and ordered at the counter. When the sandwiches came they took them to a table by the window. Stow bit into his reuben and then set it down and reached into his jacket pocket. The jacket sleeves were worn at the elbows; it looked like something he had gotten at a thrift shop. Molly thought of Peter, his khaki jackets and open-neck shirts, of the way he seemed ready at all times to hop a plane and travel to some exotic destination.

"Here, look at this," Stow said, setting a piece of paper on the table.

It was a Xerox of an article from the Oakland Tribune, dated April 9, 1935. "Magicians Dazzle at the Paramount," the headline said, and underneath, "By Andrew Dodd."

Molly began to read. "'Audiences sat spellbound as a family of magicians took to the stage at the Paramount Theatre last night. The Allalie Family, consisting of Callan, Thorne, and Fentrice, and large numbers of their kith and kin, managed to engage, enchant, and amuse—and did it all as effortlessly as pulling a rabbit out of a hat.'"

She looked up. "Thorne? Who's Thorne?"

"I was hoping you'd know."

She shook her head. "Never heard of him."

"Keep reading," Stow said.

"'Callan, the patriarch of this remarkable clan, caused his sister Thorne to vanish in full view of the audience. He made a number of predictions, telling a gentleman about a promotion awaiting him, a lady where she had misplaced her diamond and ruby watch, which, according to her, he described perfectly. There was a considerable stir in the audience at these prophecies. But even they paled in comparison with the last act, in which Callan conjured several gold statues and finally his sister Thorne, who reappeared to loud applause.

"'The sister thus returned might have been Fentrice; I confess that to this reporter the various family members looked remarkably alike. Even when I went backstage to interview them I was subject to some confusion. I did discover, however, that the Allalie clan has a tradition of touring, which, according to Thorne (or Fentrice), goes back several centuries. Some of this enormous family stay home and study what they call the art of illusion while the others tour.

"'Callan Allalie told me that the Paramount Theatre is the most beautiful place in the world. Because of this recommendation I turned to take a final look at its facade as I left. It consists of a tile mosaic several stories high featuring a man and a woman, each manipulating a number of marionettes which depend from their hands on strings—dancers, actors, athletes, animals. I felt a kinship with these figures; I had been manipulated as thoroughly by Callan, Thorne, and Fentrice Allalie. The difference was that I had enjoyed myself throughout.'"

There was a picture along with the article. It had not reproduced well; there were whole sections of shiny black where the Xerox machine had apparently given up in confusion. But Molly could make out a man standing at the front of the stage, two women somewhat behind him, a number of statues along the side, and what looked like a tiger at the back. Funny the reporter hadn't mentioned the tiger.

"Thorne could have been someone who joined them along the way," Molly said. "Maybe they called themselves a family because it sounded better."

"The article says they all looked alike."

She peered closer at the photograph. Did the three performers resemble each other? She couldn't tell. The man wore a top hat and tails, the women long fringed dresses and beads. More to the point, did they look like her? She was short, with a wide face, curly light-brown hair, and blue eyes. Could it be she had a whole group of relatives she had never met?

Her heart began to pound. "I don't know," she said. "I never heard anything about these people."

"Maybe she had a falling-out with them." Stow squinted at the article.

Maybe. It was true that Fentrice rarely spoke of Callan. But she couldn't see why that should matter to Stow and his mysterious client. And there was something a little shifty about the investigator, with his shabby coat and his talk of inheritances. Would he look as sinister if his eyes weren't so close together?

She pushed the Xerox toward him. "No, no, keep it," Stow said. "I have another copy." He bit into his sandwich. There was a spot of mustard on his collar. "Did your aunt ever keep a scrapbook? Newspaper articles, things like that?"

"I don't know."

"Could you ask her?"

"I guess so," Molly said slowly. "How did you find me?"

"Paper trail. Colleges, taxes, that sort of thing. I nearly lost you in Oregon—you were calling yourself Ariadne Travers then."

"That's my middle name."

"I know."

"I thought that stuff was confidential."

"It is." She waited for him to go on, but all he said was, "What do you do in that office building, anyway?"

"Temporary work."

"Do you like it?"

"Not really."

"Why do you do it, then?"

"I don't like being tied down. Do you like being a private investigator?"

"Keeps me busy."

That wasn't really an answer. Stow must have thought so too, because he added, "It's the only thing I've ever done."

They spent the rest of the lunch in silence. "Here's my card," the investigator said when they had finished. "Give me a call if you remember anything."

Molly took the card, put it in her purse. She had no intention of ever talking to him again.


But all that afternoon, as she sat at her desk and worked at her word processor, she thought about John Stow, about her aunt and this person who claimed to be related to her grandfather. And in the evening, after she had gone to her small apartment and cooked and eaten dinner, she wondered if she should call Fentrice.

It would be an extraordinary step, she knew. They wrote to each other at least once a week, Fentrice with her chubby black fountain pen, Molly on the computer at work. Fentrice talked about her garden, the friends with whom she played bridge, the small midwestern town where she lived. Molly told Fentrice about her succession of jobs, though she was never sure how much her aunt understood. Fentrice seemed to live in an older, slower world.

But she had been a magician, a part of the Allalie Family. She had toured the country, hopping trains, staying in boardinghouses, carrying her trunk from town to town. Molly remembered the scuffed and battered trunk from her childhood; it was dark blue, with leather straps and gold studs and a large ornate gold lock that had reminded Molly of an ancient idol.

Were there other people in the family? It had been lonely growing up with just Fentrice and the housekeeper for company. Back then nearly everyone had had a mother and father and at least one brother or sister; Molly had felt strange, an outsider, unable to fit in no matter how hard she tried. And there had been more: whispered conversations in school that stopped when she walked up, phone calls that consisted of giggling and then a dial tone, a few mornings after Halloween when they woke to find their trees draped with toilet paper and the windows of their old car soaped.

As she grew older Molly came to understand that any old, single woman who wore black and lived in a small town would be called a witch. That didn't diminish her feeling of isolation, of difference, though. She developed a tough exterior, a reputation for saying what she thought no matter whom it would hurt, an armor of honesty that, most of the time, protected her from the jokes and insults of her classmates.

Now she moved to the phone and dialed her childhood number. It rang once, twice. Molly could picture the old phone in the alcove off the hallway, black, with a large round dial and a straight cord connecting the phone to the receiver. "Hello," Fentrice said.

"Hi. It's Molly."

"Molly? Is something wrong?"

"No. Well, I don't know. Someone was asking questions about you today."

"About me? What kind of questions?"

"Something about an inheritance. He wanted to know about your family. About your brother, and a—a sister."

"A sister?" Fentrice sounded honestly puzzled; Molly felt relieved to hear it. So she didn't have a secret life, a hidden past. "Who does he think we are—the Russian royal family?"

Molly laughed.

"Did he ask anything else?" Fentrice said.

"He wanted to know if you kept a scrapbook from when you were younger. Did you? Maybe if I showed it to him he'd go away."

"Tell him I have a scrapbook, and tell him I'm using it to write my memoirs. If he wants to know anything about my life he can read the book."

"Are you really?"

"I'm thinking about it. When are you coming to visit? You can help me work on it."

"I'd love to," Molly said, suddenly overcome with a desire to leave this city with its unexpected meetings, its unanswered questions, to set all her problems in her aunt's lap and forget about them. "I've got some vacation time coming—I'll let you know when I can get away."

"Wonderful."

"Good-bye, Aunt Fentrice. I love you."

"I love you too, Molly. Don't tell this person anything."

"I won't."

"Good-bye."


Her phone rang at work the next day. Peter, she thought, and reached for the phone quickly. "Listen to this," the voice at the other end said.

It was John Stow. "I have to say I admire your persistence," Molly said. "What is it?"

"I found a review of the family's performance in Los Angeles. That's where they went after Oakland. Listen: 'The Allalie Family, consisting of Callan and Fentrice and their numerous cousins ...'" His voice trailed off.

"So?"

"So Thorne isn't mentioned. Don't you find that odd?"

"No."

"But the Tribune said she was part of the family."

"Maybe she was sick that day."

"All right. But I can't find her in any of the clippings after the Allalie Family plays Oakland. And in Los Angeles Fentrice disappears too."

"Fentrice told me she left. There's nothing mysterious there—she just got tired of the show. And Thorne could have been sick for a long time. They didn't have penicillin in those days. Or maybe she left the show too."

"My client thinks Thorne might have been killed."

"Killed! Why? Who the hell is this client, anyway?"

"You know I can't tell you that."

"Oh, right. So your client can make all kinds of accusations, but I can't even know who he is. Or she. Who does he think murdered her? My aunt, no doubt, for the inheritance."

"He doesn't know. But like I said, I haven't been able to find Thorne. She disappeared somewhere between here and Los Angeles."

"So what are you saying? Are you trying to hurt my aunt? She's eighty-seven years old—she doesn't need someone like you making trouble for her."

"Why do you think it would make trouble?"

"Oh, please. What else? Here's someone claiming to be related to us, claiming to be owed money—Well, my aunt doesn't have any. That's all I'm going to say."

"I don't suppose you asked your aunt about a scrapbook," Stow said.

"Good-bye," Molly said, and put the phone down.

After she hung up she took the article Stow had given her out of her purse. She turned it over, wrote "Callan Allalie" and drew a vertical line connecting him to her mother and father, Joan and Bill Travers, killed in a car crash when she was three. She drew another descending line from her parents' names, wrote "Molly A. Travers" under that. A horizontal line linked Callan to Fentrice; another joined him and Thorne. Molly thought for a moment, then put a question mark after Thorne.

She turned the page over, looking for the author of the article. Without stopping to think she picked up a copy of the Oakland phone book. To her surprise an Andrew Dodd was listed. She dialed the number.

The phone rang five times, and then a wavering male voice said, "Hello?"

"Hello," Molly said loudly. "Is this Andrew Dodd?"

"Nothing wrong with my hearing. Who is this?"

"My name's Molly Travers. I want to ask you some questions about an article you wrote."

"Which one?"

"The Allalie Family. The magicians."

"Allalie, is it? Say, that brings back memories."

"Can I talk to you about them?"

"Sure, why not? How about tonight?"

"Tonight?" Molly said. It would mean not being home if Peter called. Hell, let Peter wait, she thought. Let him see how he likes it. "That would be fine," she said.

After work she skipped dinner and drove to Andrew Dodd's apartment in her old Honda Civic. Dodd lived in a renovated building of yellow-gray brick in downtown Oakland, not far from the oldTribune building. A yellow sign in front of the apartment said SENIORS XING; over that was a lozenge showing a silhouette of a man crossing the street.

She found Dodd's name and apartment number and pressed the buzzer next to it. "Who is it?" a woman's voice asked.

"Molly Travers."

"Please register at the desk when you come in," the woman said. A buzzer sounded, and Molly pushed open the front door.

The registration desk was to her left, past a bank of mailboxes. She went over and gave her name and Andrew Dodd's, and the receptionist picked up the phone and punched a three-digit number.

Andrew Dodd seemed to be taking a great deal of time to get to the phone. Molly studied the lobby with its faded maroon carpets and plush worn couches, its round wooden table and wilting centerpiece. "Mr. Dodd says to go on up," the receptionist said finally. "The elevators are through that hallway."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Walking the Labyrinth by Lisa Goldstein. Copyright © 1996 Lisa Goldstein. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Walking the Labyrinth 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Last December, I read Lisa Goldstein's National Book Award-winning The Red Magician and was not impressed.  Thus it was with some trepidation that I accepted Open Road Media's invitation to review Walking the Labyrinth, originally published in 1998, five years after The Red Magician. My concern could not have been more misplaced; those five years were a period of spectacular growth in Goldstein's writing. Walking the Labyrinth is, like The Red Magician, a paranormal fantasy. However, while Walking the Labyrinth is informed by the time and place of its setting, it is not driven by them in the way that The Red Magician depended on the Holocaust for its meaning. Instead, Walking the Labyrinth is a multi-generational family drama, in which the family members happen to possess a variety of supernatural powers. Although those powers do play a key role in resolving the book's central mystery (what happened to Callan Allalie's sister Thorne), they are just the icing on the cake; the real meat of the story (to use yet another food metaphor) is Goldstein's moving and insightful exploration of the Allalie family's internal dynamics: jealousy, envy, sibling rivalry, money issues, handling the pressures of a travelling life. The labyrinth is found in many faith traditions throughout history. In the Episcopalian church, we view the labyrinth as both a journey to the center of the self and a process of transformation. The labyrinth in Goldstein's book has no specific religious meaning, but it does serve as a tool for self-knowledge and as a method for transforming relationships, for both the better and the worse. In this sense, the labyrinth is a perfect symbol for all families, even those (like mine) which lack magical powers. Approaching the book with this in mind makes the experience of reading Walking the Labyrinth even richer and more rewarding. I received a free copy of Walking the Labyrinth from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
written for a teen reader.
MsReaderCP More than 1 year ago
Goldstein has written a creative and original mystery that involves magicians, a secret society, and an enchanted labyrinth. The main character Molly is lovable and trusting, but she learns that her great-aunt, whom Molly believed was her only living family, has been lying to her all of her life. Molly has to look into her past to discover the truth about missing family members and the secret of her family’s seemingly real magic. In her search, Molly discovers a journal written by one of her ancestors Emily. Emily’s voice is so real, and I loved reading her journal. The labyrinth, described so well, is used perfectly as both a literal and metaphorical journey to wisdom and knowledge. This fun motif went so well with one of the book’s themes, to question everything, and not take things as they may first appear, or as they appear on the exterior. Other subjects covered include family and romance issues. One of the negatives of the book was that while following the clues as Molly did, I discovered that Goldstein seemed to jump to a clue where there was no groundwork or basis for that jump. When you are reading a good mystery, this definitely upsets the build-up of the suspense. Overall, this is a fun mystery and Young Adults who love historical fiction and contemporary fiction will enjoy how the past is juxtaposed with the present. I’m glad I read it for the labyrinth with its rooms and enchantments! I also thoroughly enjoyed Emily's journal- suspenseful! *I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.