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    An Intriguing Mystery with an Ambiguous Ending

    As one can infer from the publisher's description of Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall, this book jumps back and forth in time, as well as among multiple points of view, so those who prefer more linear narratives may want to steer clear. For those willing to follow Hand down the rabbit hole, however, Wylding Hall provides a well-written and intriguing supernatural mystery with an ambiguous, but nonetheless satisfying, ending. The description ends with two questions: "But whose story is true? And what really happened to Julian Blake?" Despite the implication of the first question, this story does not have an unreliable narrator as such. Instead, it is composed of each character's recollection of, and speculation about, 40-year-old events as they each try to answer the second question about Julian's ultimate fate. As in real life, each character perceives those events through a different prism now tarnished with age, so the book produces a kaleidoscopic effect; each new piece of evidence causes the kaleidoscope to turn, offering the reader a constantly shifting series of plausible solutions to the mystery of Julian's disappearance. The reader must decide, not so much "whose story is true," but which vantage point provides the most coherent narrative. Publishers Weekly complained about the "disappointingly undifferentiated voices" of Hand's characters, a criticism which has merit and explains why I gave Wylding Hall 4 stars instead of 5. Wylding Hall is not Waking the Moon, nor is it intended to be; nevertheless, this novella is great fun and a good introduction to Hand's sensibilities. I received a free copy of Wylding Hall through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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