SFF

Thistlefoot

Anchor Sept. 2022. 448p. ISBN 9780593468838. $28. FANTASY
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DEBUTRussian Jewish folklore meets the modern world in this fantastical story of good versus evil. Estranged siblings Isaac and Bellatine Yaga come from a long line of Russian puppeteers, each having their own special talent (or curse). Isaac is the Chameleon King, changing his appearance by imitating a person’s muscle movements. Bellatine has hands which ignite and wake the puppets. The siblings reunite when they receive an inheritance—Thistlefoot, a living house with chicken legs that moves and responds to commands in Yiddish. Isaac and Bellatine tour the U.S. with Thistlefoot, performing their famous puppet shows, but they soon discover there are others intent on finding the magical house. The evil Longshadow Man is close and will let no one get in his way; however, the house has its own agenda, and dues must be paid to balance the universe’s energy.
VERDICT Replete with beautiful metaphors and lyrical prose, poet and folklorist Nethercott’s (The Lumberjack’s Dove) debut novel deploys her poetic storytelling powers to spotlight the struggle against oppression. This modern-day fairy tale will ignite greater understanding of an individual’s ability to incite change with the stories they tell.
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