I was introduced to Lisa Goldstein a few months ago with the re-release of her National Book Award winner “The Red Magician.” I enjoyed the book immensely, but I’m not certain that I don’t like “Walking the Labyrinth” ($7.99, Open Road Media) even more.
Originally released in 1996, “Walking the Labyrinth” tells the tale of Molly Travers, a temp worker with an on-again, off-again writer boyfriend who mostly ignores her. She lives a fairly normal and dreary life. That is until private detective John Stow shows up on her doorstep and begins asking questions about her Aunt Fentrice, who raised her after her parents died.
The detective’s inquiries lead Molly to question what she knows about her life and sets her on an unlikely path of adventure and mystery and she uncovers the secrets of her family’s sordid history.
Like “The Red Magician,” this book is a fast-paced tale set in the real world and steeped in the occult and magic realism. The subject matter, though, is a bit lighter and it leans more toward mystery as Molly tries to unravel her family’s history. Goldstein does a good job of laying the breadcrumbs throughout the book and even offering a little misdirection here and there.
Though the focus of the book is on Molly, the Allalie family really steals the spotlight. They’re a colorful cast of characters with a fascinating story, and I’d really love to spend more time getting to know them.
That’s the big weakness of this book, and what keeps it from being a five-star story for me. While I appreciate a fast-paced, concise tale, there were parts of “Walking the Labyrinth” that I would have liked to explore more fully. I also thought that some of the subplots were a bit rushed and underdeveloped and could have added some depth and tension.
That said, “Walking the Labyrinth” is still a very enjoyable read. It’s not as heavy as “The Red Magician,” but it’s a bit more lively and great fun. After two winners, I’m looking forward to exploring more of Goldstein’s work.