A Surfeit of Enigmas. "The Different World of Fin Starling" by Elizabeth Stead. [review]
Stead has a remarkable ability to create bravura set pieces, such as the storm that devastates the village. Her prose is consistently eloquent and inventive. But there is an ephemeral quality to the novel that left this reader unsatisfied. Magic realism has traditionally been used by writers such as Milan Kundera and Gabriel García Márquez as a sort of release from, or alternative to, their countries’ dire circumstances. Notwithstanding the fabulous quality of the episodes in these books, they generally serve the purpose of illuminating the real world. However, rather than provide the reader with illumination or contrast, the surreal aspects of Stead’s novel tend to confuse.