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A Red Heart of Memories
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Ace Books, 329 pages

Tim Barrall
A Red Heart of Memories
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Nina Kiriki Hoffman's other work -- either on her own or with other authors -- includes Body Switchers from Outer Space (R.L. Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street, No 14), Child of an Ancient City, Echoes (Star Trek Voyager, No 15), I Was a Sixth-Grade Zombie (Ghosts of Fear Street, No 30), The Silent Strength of Stones, Why I'm Not Afraid of Ghosts (R.L. Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street, No 23), Body Switchers from Outer Space (Ghosts of Fear Street, No 14), Why I'm Not Afraid of Ghosts (Ghosts of Fear Street, No 23) and The Thread That Binds the Bones.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jeri Wright

This book brings to mind the line about a number of impossible things before breakfast. A Red Heart of Memories is full of beautiful, impossible magic; the reader is sucked right in, experiencing quite a few "impossible" things, almost without conscious awareness. It's the kind of novel that is hard to describe without recounting it; you could say it is about self-discovery, about seeing the world in a different way, about finding oneself and about losing oneself. At the same time it is deceptively straightforward magical adventure. The two main characters are both damaged, both outside the realm of ordinary living, both in need of something they cannot quite define.

"Matt Black met the mossman on Christmas Eve."
Matt, short for Matilda, is sitting in a quiet cemetery communing with old gravestones when a man appears from within an ivy covered wall. The stranger shares her lunch, hungry from months in the wall, and two lives are changed.

Edmund, like Matt, is a wanderer touched by magic. Matt sees people's dreams and talks to things -- all kinds of things: sidewalks, walls, houses, cars... She gets itchy feet if she stays in one place too long. Edmund is a witch who follows the spirit that leads him to where he is needed. Something in Matt draws him, and she recognizes something in him that calls to her as well.

The pair begin a journey of growth and discovery, a journey in which they will relive long suppressed memories and seek answers to questions just now surfacing. Along the way they will rediscover old friends and learn new magic, and, eventually, heal old wounds to reconcile the pieces of themselves they have cut off and hidden away over the years.

The magic in the story is echoed by the magic in the writing; Hoffman seems to have a unique talent for making prose soar. Her voice is distinct; I was caught up in seemingly effortless flow of the narrative, captivated by each small detail, each image. Definitely, one of the most memorable novels I've read this year, and one of the most original.

Copyright © 1999 Jeri Wright

Jeri is a voracious reader who believes that paradise could well be a quiet afternoon, unlimited chocolate, and a novel to lose herself in. She reads and reviews all types of fiction, and enjoys sharing her life long passion for books with like-minded readers.

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