MadappleMadapple, the debut novel by Christina Meldrum, is a spellbinding exploration of the correlations among nature, religion, mythology and the human condition. 

Meldrum weaves a complex story, full of mystery, about a sixteen-year-old girl, Aslaug. Raised in an isolated and restrictive environment by her eccentric Danish mother, Aslaug learns languages, botany, mythology and science, but very little about the outside world. When her mother dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Aslaug leaves home in search of her absent father, but instead finds her estranged aunt and cousins, who run a Pentecostal church in a nearby town. As dark family secrets are revealed, including the mystery of Aslaug’s birth, the tension in the story escalates; eventually, a fire destroys the church, claiming the lives of her aunt and cousin, and Aslaug is the chief suspect.  

Aslaug’s first person account of events, rich in lyricism and imagery, is juxtaposed with spare courtroom transcripts. She is a captivatingly unreliable narrator, in part because of her naivete about the world, but also because of her memories, fantasies and beliefs.  The interplay between the two narratives is effective at foreshadowing and generating suspense, and the complexities of the plot make for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  • Posted by Cori

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