CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002
Andrea Austin is definitely not enjoying her new high school. Life at home hasn't been easy since her parents split up, but at least she had friends at her old school. Now, she must dress to suit her father, and everything about her sets her apart from the other students and makes her a perfect victim for the Six, the only girl gang in school, who make her their preferred target. One night, after Andrea ducks into a curio store to avoid the six, she finds a laquer box with an inlaid top and is informed by the proprietress of the shop that she has found the maze and been chosen by it. A few days later, she is swarmed by the Six on her way home, and the two ringleaders disappear when they start to fight over her box. Andrea then becomes a suspect in their disappearance and is dismayed to learn that she must enter the maze to retrieve the girls. The Maze marks Hughes' return to traditional fantasy elements, coupled with the elegant language that is a characteristic of all her work. The outside elements in the form of the store, its owner and the box all marry with the internal struggle going on within the three girls to provide a very satisfactory read. Andrea, herself, thinks of the books of E. Nesbit and Michael Bedard - very apt comparisons for this novel - and wonders about the possibility of real magic. The contemporary aspects of the book include Andrea's hopelessness over her dress and haircut, the leader of the gang being a girl, and the fact that Andrea's custodial parent is her father. Fans of well-written fantasy with traditional elements will be lining up for the release of The Maze.
Betsy Fraser is the Youth Services Librarian with Calgary Public Library.
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