December 27, 2006

Poisoned Ivy

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

There is nothing like a good gothic tale to make you want to sit with your back to a wall and keep all the lights on. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs isn't your average run-of-the-mill gothic tale, and no matter how many lights you leave on, its sickly, twisted and perverse story of mother-love, eugenics and freakishness will just... leave you shuddering.

Ivy has spent her life playing around the pharmacy owned by the eccentric set of Rumbaugh twins. Their fascination with taxidermy and their link to genetic experimentation is a story known by most people in town, but it's a disturbing surprise to Ivy, come her sixteenth birthday, to learn that one of the brothers is her father -- but which one? Neither of them will tell, and even her mother doesn't know for sure. It doesn't matter anyway, they tell her. They're just alike. They're two men who loved their mother: and that's really all Ivy needs to know.

A strangeness envelops Ivy, her mother and the whole town. The novel is a clearly told but sick-making story about two boys who were obsessed with their mother to the point of saving her forever -- through taxidermy. Their so-called love curse is passed on to Ivy... through a morbid fascination with taxidarmy, a deranged anxiety about losing her mother, and freakish hysteria labeled as love through science. Is Ivy's fear of death caused by genetics or by the strange atmosphere of hanging out with stuffed dead animals all day? Is her obsession merely a facet of some kind of depression stemming from luxuriating in the grief she feels at imagining her mother's death while being overjoyed at being in her presence?

This will be a book best enjoyed by more advanced young adult readers who can plow through the lengthy sections on biology and genetics. The weirdness will make your skin crawl, the eugenics aspect will make you squirm, and readers who enjoy tales of the simply awful will be hard put to set the book down until its last horrific scene.

No comments: