Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lost by Gregory Maguire

   Winnie, a novelist, is traveling to London to do some research for a book she is writing about a girl named Wendy who is obsessed with the story of Jack the Ripper.  When Winnie arrives at her stepcousin's flat in London she is surprised to find that the house is under construction and her cousin, John, is nowhere to be found.  According to old family stories, Winnie is the direct descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge, or rather the man who inspired Charles Dickens's timeless character, and John is living in their ancestor's house.

   After a few days in the house, Winnie and the construction workers have reason to believe that the old house is haunted.  A loud knocking sound is coming from the chimney, and further inspection reveals a false wall built hastily around the origin of the noise.  Winnie is unsure if the house is inhabited by the ghost of Jack the Ripper, one of his victims, or her scrooge-like ancestor.  Or, she begins to wonder if her cousin's disappearance has more terrifying implications than she first imagined.

   This book was a quick read, but it took some strange, unexpected turns and ended on a much different note than I thought it would.  The many literary/folklore references never really came together coherently, especially the references to Jack the Ripper.  It's almost like Gregory Maguire decided to write a different story midway through the novel but using the same characters.  It's not his best work and fans of the Wicked series might be disappointed, but it is entertaining.