Saturday, September 03, 2005

Owl in Love

I've been reading some good books lately. Here's one of them.

Book: Owl in Love
Author: Patrice Kindl
Published: 1993

Fourteen-year-old Owl is passionately in love--with her science teacher, Mr. Lindstrom. Oh, she knows what the magazines say about girls and crushes, but she knows it's more than that. And why? Because silly little crushes are for regular girls. She is a were-owl, and owls mate for life. Therefore, this is True Love. What's a slight species difference, not to mention an age gap of about twenty-five years, to Destined Mates?

Owl is confident that with enough patience, she and Mr. Lindstrom can be together. But then she starts encountering a weird, inept barn owl in her nightly flights, and a mysterious, wild boy living in the woods behind Mr. Lindstrom's house. And suddenly True Love doesn't seem so important anymore . . .

Fantasy author Holly Lisle says that every fantasy author gets one "gimme" per story--one element or event that's just utterly illogical, but that the audience will accept anyway. More than one gimme is pushing it pretty hard. Moreover, once that gimme is there, you have to proceed logically from that point. Owl in Love is a perfect example of this. Once you manage to accept the idea that a fourteen-year-old girl can turn into an owl at will, the rest of the book is meticulously logical and beautifully crafted.

This book has been called hilarious, weird, haunting, and original--all by the same reviewer. The great strength of this book is Owl herself. She watches regular people and their activities with detached puzzlement. Her comments on humanity are enough to make you roll on the floor, more so because they're delivered in such solemn and serious language. And it's obvious to everyone but Owl herself that she shares quite a lot with these nutty humans she holds herself separate from.

The minor characters (everyone seems minor next to Owl) are just as delightful. From sweet and unexpectedly crafty Dawn (who has proclaimed herself Owl's friend, somewhat to Owl's bafflement), to Owl's darling and somewhat daffy parents, to the object of passion himself, Mr. Lindstrom, and the weird and wild boy Houle, Kindl creates a cast worthy of the star of the show.

Owl's in love . . . and you will be too.

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