Princess Alethea's Magical Elixir
Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
I fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen over a crotchety old woman and an apple
tree. The woman was named Evanelle, and if she knocked on your door to hand
you a thimble at 2 a.m. it was because you needed it . . . or would need it in the
near future. The apple tree's fruit showed the eater the best moment of his or her
life, regardless of whether or not that moment had already come to pass. The book
was called Garden Spells, and I was a fan for life.
The next year heralded The Sugar Queen, which was just as quirky with its
magical realism and just as much fun. And then came the wait. Well over a year
later, fans of Sarah Addison Allen once again have reason to be overjoyed at the
release of The Girl Who Chased the Moon.
The two main characters in this novel are Julia Winterson, a chef known for the
exotic cakes she serves at the barbecue restaurant she inherited from her father.
Julia wears a pink streak in her hair as a reminder of the hairstyle she sported back
in her wild and crazy high school days, and bakes cakes because of a boy . . . a boy
who has grown into a man with even more feelings for her now than he had then.
Our second heroine is Emily Benedict, a teenager whose outcast mother passed
away and has come back to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with her grandfather,
a gentle giant of over eight feet tall. Emily must find a way to fit in this odd town,
survive in the mess left in the wake of her mother's leaving, and dig through the
secrets of Mullaby to get to the truth.
Therein lies the one problem I had with this novel -- it's a device writers use
called "withheld information." It's usual in a storyline for a person to have a
secret-to-be-revealed-later. Even two. It's a little more unusual for there to be three
or more secrets running around that you're not allowed to know anything about for
a good chunk of the book. What is the Coffey family hiding? What exactly did
Emily's mother do that made everyone hate her? What's Julia's big secret? What
happened between Julia and Sawyer that they can't seem to resolve? And what the
heck are the Mullaby Lights? The reader can definitely empathize with Emily's
frustration as what seems like far too much time goes by before each of these
questions is slowly answered.
And yet, the magic of Sarah Addison Allen's talent remains steadfast. The
wallpaper in Emily's bedroom changes its own pattern. Sawyer's sweet tooth gives
him the ability to not only smell but also see baking sugar in the air and follow it
back to its origin. The characters are beautifully realized and their interactions are
genuine -- I only wish we had been able to spend more time with them in a few
scenes that didn't solely have to do with secrets, their discovery, or the lack
Overall I enjoyed The Girl Who Chased the Moon as immensely as I knew I would
. . . but my heart still belongs to Garden Spells. If you haven't tried Sarah Addison
Allen's brand of enchantment for yourself, I highly recommend starting with that
one. And then be sure to drop me a line and tell me how you like them apples.
Title: Absolute Death
Author: Neil Gaiman
I'm overstepping my bounds a bit on this one and toeing into my friend and fellow
sideshow freak Spencer Ellsworth's demesne, but when a Miracle Pictograph is
oversized, slipcased, bound with fancy artwork, and put on sale for just shy of a
Ben Franklin to hardcore collectors, it's slightly more than just your average
It doesn't take much to make a Neil Gaiman fan these days, now that he's a
Newbury winner, a consummate Twitterer, and all-around Renaissance man. Oh,
he still wore the black-leather-jacket-and-jeans ensemble, but those of us misfits on
the fringes of society back in the late-80s/early 90s knew him only as "that guy
who writes the Sandman comics" or "the guy Tori Amos keeps mentioning in all
I was one of the latter, with my angsty girl music and a little sister who dyed her
hair pink. My boyfriend bought the Sandman graphic novels and I enjoyed them
. . . but not as much as I did the two slender volumes dedicated solely to Dream's
eldest sister Death.
Death is who every inner-goth girl wanted to be, and who every misfit guy wanted
to date. She was smart and confident and pretty and quirky and had a vocabulary as
huge as she was tiny. She had seen and known more in her existence than even her
other immortal siblings could comprehend, and that air of mystery made her just
that much more magnificent.
Absolute Death is a must-have for all of us crazy comic book geeks who made
Death our muse. It includes a brief introduction from the Picasso-esque morbid
darling Amanda Palmer herself, "The Time of Your Life" and "The High Cost of
Living," as well as five shorter pieces from Sandman issues and Vertigo
anthologies. The "Death Miscellany" appendix contains an art gallery, a PSA,
various and sundry collectible ephemera, sketches, and the pencils and script for
Sandman issue eight. In farewell, Neil bids us adieu with the afterward from "The
Time of Your Life," as well as a brief paragraph about the Absolute Death
It's gorgeous, it's chock full of goodness, and it's black. If you've ever owned an
ankh and the t-shirt on page 320 (I have two), it's worth the money to have this
beauty on your shelf. If I have any complaint at all -- and how can one complain
about something so positively wonderful? -- it's that the original introductions
from "The Time of Your Life" and "The High Cost of Living" were not included. I
probably wouldn't have even noticed had I not been such a huge Tori Amos fan. It
only seems natural for Tori to always be hanging out with the Dream King
Thanks, Spencer, for letting me twirl in your playground a bit. I'll leave the rest of
our magical Miracle Pictographs for you and won't even mention how I've got the
ending of DC's Blackest Night storyline aaaaaall figured out. Promise.
Read more by Alethea Kontis