This was a 20-years-later re-read of a fantasy I remember liking in high school, one of Terri Windling's Ace Fantasy Specials.

It opens with a somewhat deadly prologue involving Gods, in which the Trickster Rimble playfully meddles with humanity, creating the novel's most interesting concept, landdraw, in which children are born with characteristics metaphorically resembling the land in which they were conceived. Piedmerris, born in a peaceful, fertile area, are plump and placid, and have a psychic connection to the land. Jinjirri, born in an earthquake-prone area, have hair whose color changes with their moods (so they normally wear scarves, lest everyone be able to read them too easily), and can change gender at will. Etc. This is a pretty cool concept, and is carefully worked out down to issues like, "What if a woman conceives in one land, then goes to another?" (She miscarries.)

The actual plot involves a bohemian household, into which nine misfit characters are drawn by the machinations of Rimble so he can fix something that went wrong in the past and either avert an apocalypse or bring about a change in consciousness, I forget. The climax is a bit incoherent.

This is a very odd book, full of deliberate fourth-wall breaking, anachronisms, and tossed-off inventions. It has a very sixties feel to me, with all the free spirits and drugs, though I guess the eighties also had a lot of idolizing of bohemians and freeing your mind. It's written in omniscient POV, which was unusual even then. It's both ambitious and slight, which is a strange combination.

Based on this, I would have expected Greenhalgh to go on to a quite interesting career. Instead, she wrote a sequel, Trickster's Touch, which I recall not liking, and then vanished without a trace. Does anyone know what happened to her? (Beyond the obvious answer that her second book flopped and she quit writing.)



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