Clara at the Edge

Maryl Jo Fox She Writes Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $16.95 (326pp) 978-1-63152-250-5

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - JOHN M. MUR­RAY

Clara’s story un­spools in a com­pelling and en­gag­ing way.

Sub­tly shift­ing points of view give the nar­ra­tive a dream­like feel, but they also help to an­chor its oth­er­worldly as­pects.

Clara at the Edge is a weird and en­gag­ing story of a widow, some wasps, and a trau­matic past, a story that ex­plores the im­por­tance of hu­man con­nec­tion.

Seventy-three-year-old widow Clara Breck­en­ridge takes up her home, which is sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion, to tow it to Jack­pot, Ne­vada. Along for the ride are her es­tranged adult son, Frank, and a magic swarm of wasps. Those wasps once de­fended Clara from her abu­sive fa­ther, and they have been her pro­tec­tors ever since.

Dur­ing her unique jour­ney, Clara must face her deep­est fears and un­lock her in­ter­nal se­crets. She re­luc­tantly at­tempts to re­con­nect with her fam­ily, find a path to hap­pi­ness, and sat­isfy her magic pro­tec­tors be­fore they fade for­ever.

Clara is a fas­ci­nat­ing, feisty char­ac­ter whose mag­i­cal wasps seem to func­tion as a sub­con­scious out­let. Now at the end of her life, Clara has spent forty years alone; her wasps drive her to un­shackle her­self from this self-im­posed iso­la­tion. When she is con­fronted by vi­o­lent youths at­tack­ing her and her home, Clara puts her own safety aside in the hopes of prevent­ing a dark fu­ture.

The writ­ing is haunt­ing and lyri­cal, and fre­quently rip­ples with hu­mor and heart. Clara’s is not the only lens through which events are seen; the per­spec­tives of her son, the lo­cals in Jack­pot, and a po­ten­tial love in­ter­est also play in. Sub­tly shift­ing points of view give the nar­ra­tive a dream­like feel, but they also help to an­chor its oth­er­worldly as­pects. For ex­am­ple, while the pur­ple wasps at first seem like hal­lu­ci­na­tions or signs of a frac­tured mind, it be­comes ev­i­dent that most of the peo­ple around Clara also no­tice their strange be­hav­iors and col­orations. It is clear that there is an out­side force push­ing Clara.

En­chant­ingly lan­guid pac­ing serves as a coun­ter­point to the story’s ever-present count­down: even if the truth about the wasps and Clara’s fate isn’t clear at first, there’s less than a month to root it out. Clara truly is at the edge of some­thing greater than her­self. As she finds her­self sur­rounded by new friends, es­tranged fam­ily, and the ghosts of those she lost, Clara’s story un­spools in a com­pelling and en­gag­ing way.

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