Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone

The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is a fantasy/romance magical realism fable set in dual timelines by Audrey Burges. Released 24th Jan 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 352 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a nicely written, eminently readable story full of small and large magics, with whimsy and romance, and tragedy sprinkled liberally throughout. The plot is meandering and often doubles back on itself and the whole relies mostly on the well rendered characters to carry the story. I was intrigued by the story of a real-life genius loci in rural Virginia which has a mirrored miniature focus (don't call it a dollhouse) in the possession of a reclusive young woman in Arizona. 

It's partly a family dynasty story with archetypal antagonists in the form of a rigid and cruel clan matriarch & patriarch. I found some of the chapters set in the past timeline rather meandering and unclear, contrasted with the crisply modern chapters in the current timeline. It seems likely that the differences in writing style were conscious on the author's part. The language is relatively clean, and there's nothing graphic. There are some discussions of death and mental illness/suicide ideation/PTSD but nothing which would likely be triggering for most readers. 

Well written, likely more appealing for YA/NA readers. It's self contained in this volume, and the denouement and resolution are satisfying and complete (though somewhat open ended, leaving the possibility for a sequel). 

Four stars. An oddly whimsical read. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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