Walking the Labyrinth

Walking the Labyrinth

Investigating her family history, Molly slips into a world of magic

Backstage at a vaudeville in Oakland, California, a reporter sits down for an interview with Callan Allalie, patriarch of a family of traveling magicians. As the journalist asks his questions, Callan’s sisters dazzle him with tricks too delicate for the stage. The night quickly whirls out of control as all manner of untold magic warps the writer’s mind, and the next morning, he can’t be sure that he witnessed it at all.

Sixty years later, a private detective confronts Molly, the last descendent of the Allalie clan, to ask questions about one of Callan’s sisters, who seemed to vanish after the performance in Oakland. As Molly delves into the mysteries of the Allalies, she discovers a connection to a shadowy organization of nineteenth-century mystics—and a family secret that will change the way she looks at the world forever.

From Publishers Weekly

Contemporary fantasy isn't Goldstein's forte. Her historical and otherworldly reveries (Summer King, Winter Fool, etc.) can dazzle, but the modern world seems to confound her storytelling in this novel set in today's San Francisco, just as it did in Tourists (1989). Here, odd-job typist Molly Travers is searching for her mysterious ancestors. Through a series of increasingly unlikely coincidences, she learns that she is a descendant of the Allalie clan. Originally adepts of the 19th-century English Order of the Labyrinth, the Allalies migrated in the 1930s to the American vaudeville stage, where they used their assorted extrasensory talents to "change people's lives." Molly's journey takes her on a magical mystery tour, but it's one in which Goldstein fumbles the cards and drops the white rabbit on the floor. Her prose is flat and arhythmic, with the many family diaries and letters that Molly discovers revealing the author's ignorance of Victorian locution. The characters are simple, and the plotting is obvious. There's some charm to Molly's discovery of magic in the everyday world, but it's not enough to make this one of Goldstein's memorable outings. Hopefully her next will forsake our world for a more enchanted one.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Molly Travers is working a temp job in San Francisco when she discovers that she is descended from a 19th-century vaudeville and magic troupe. Raised by a maiden great-aunt after her parents died in a car accident, she learns from private detective John Stow that she has relatives she's never known about. As she and Stow investigate her family history, they discover a dark secret intertwined with the occultist Order of the Labyrinth. This thoughtful journey of self-discovery is highly recommended for realistic fantasy collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. 

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