The Strange Inheritance of Leah Fern

Highbridge Audio. Oct. 2022. 11:36 hrs. ISBN 9781696609715. $24.99. F
Chin’s debut novel (after her memoir Let the Tornado Come) follows 21-year-old Leah Fern as she journeys across the U.S. and Canada searching for answers about her mother’s life. Leah, a skilled empath, grew up as part of the Blazing Calyx Carnival until her magician mother mysteriously disappeared and left her with her guardian, Edward. On the eve of her 21st birthday, Leah, who had been preparing to take her own life, is presented with information that may explain why her mother left so many years ago. Narrator Sarah Skaer captures the aura of magic that permeates the story, although her presentation is somewhat marred by slow pacing and an overly sweet tone. Even so, Skaer’s characterizations strike the right note, particularly her depictions of secondary characters—neighbor Essie, whose letters sparkle with wisdom; gentle Edward, who never loses hope; and various good Samaritans whom Leah encounters on the way.
VERDICT Although some listeners may wish for more momentum to carry the story along, Chin’s touching tale speaks to the enduring bonds of family and community. Recommended for fans of Aimee Bender’s The Butterfly Lampshade or Therese Walsh’s The Moon Sisters.
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