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A Red Heart of Memories

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About the Author

Over the past twenty-four years, Nina Kiriki Hoffman has sold novels, juvenile and media tie-in books, short story collections, and more than two hundred short stories. Her works have been finalists for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, and Endeavour awards. Her first novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones, won a Stoker Award. Nina's YA novel Spirits that Walk in Shadow and her science fiction novel Catalyst were published in 2006. Her fantasy novel Fall of Light will be published by Ace Books in May.


A meeting between Matt Black, a woman with the power to communicate with objects, and Edmund, a young man gifted with spirit magic, evolves into a journey into Edmund's past to heal his broken selves. The latest novel by the author of The Thread That Binds the Bones depicts a pair of charmed (and charming) individuals whose unique talents lie not only in their magical skills but in their compassion and resourcefulness. Fans of Charles de Lint's modern-world fantasies should appreciate Hoffman's graceful storytelling and down-to-earth magic. For most fantasy collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

It's a pleasure to see a new adult novel from Hoffman, even a lesser work like this one. Her debut novel, The Thread that Binds, won a Stoker for best first novel, but of late she has been writing for R.L. Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street series. This is an innocuous tale of three nomads who become friends and confront the problems in their past. Matt Black is not a witch, but she does have two special powers: "dream-eyes," which allow her to see others' mental landscapes, and the ability to communicate with inanimate objects. After years of wandering alone, Matt is surprised to meet another "special" person: Edmund, a witch who has been "blowing from here to there," using "spirit" to "help things fix themselves." The two quickly become companions and decide to retrace Edmund's life to find out why he is so alone. They visit his childhood friends, including Susan, who becomes part of the group. It turns out that the three all suffer from the effects of traumatic experiences: incest led to self-abusive "zoned" years for Matt; Susan has avoided friendship ever since she fled her controlling father; Edmund's self literally fragmented after he destroyed a man while protecting himself. Hoffman handles the interconnected solutions to the trio's problems with skill, as each solution leads subtly to greater understanding and compassion. At times, however, the characters' long talks skirt perilously close to pop psychology masquerading as wisdom: "He did the only thing he could, because that's what happened. The only place we can change anything is right now." Hoffman's "comfort magic" is even less successfulÄEdmund's vague "spirit" and "gold" powers are ill defined, little more than ornaments in a quiet tale of three injured souls helping each other toward happiness. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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