Patrice Kindl is a former model and secretary who often works with animals. (It shows in her choices of subject matter.) She first appeared on the children's lit scene in 1993, with OWL IN LOVE.
Fourteen-year-old Owl is a shapeshifter in love with her science teacher. It's a bildungsroman (she grows from schoolgirl crush to true romance) about a misfit, and features paranormal elements before they were in vogue. Owl's voice is charming and absorbing, setting the stage for Kindl's compelling female narrators.
Her next novel, THE WOMAN IN THE WALL, was the first one I read. Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print. I must say, if you find a used copy, buy it and read it. Shy, crafty Anna retreats into secret passages she built in her family's home when her mother remarries. A love letter, however, might force her out of her retreat. Although Anna is alone for much of the story, Kindl manages to develop a compelling cast. I loved this book, which reads like a modern fairy tale, magical without any actual magic occurring.
Kindl began the new millennium with GOOSE CHASE, an actual modern fairy tale. As the back of the novel puts it:
An orphaned Goose girl, Alexandria’s troubles begin when she offers some of her precious bread and water to a hungry old woman. The woman just happens to be a witch in disguise, and poof! Alexandria is suddenly heartstoppingly beautiful. When she brushes her hair, gold dust showers to the ground, and her tears turn to diamonds.
She may be heartstoppingly beautiful, but she'd rather people just let her do her job. Alexandria is a fabulous practical heroine, the exact kind of girl you wish starred more often in fairy tales. Lovers of fairy tales will enjoy how familiar stories weave in and out of GOOSE CHASE.
LOST IN THE LABYRINTH, conversely, will appeal most to those who enjoy mythology. This is a retelling of the Theseus's defeat of the Minotaur . . . from the point of view of the Minotaur's half-sister, Xenodice. Kindl manages to make the story compelling even when the fates of the characters are a foregone conclusion. She also manages to inject real history into the proceedings, which is always a bonus.
Kindl's writing is elegant and captivation. There are many years between her books, but she clearly puts that time to good use. Each of her four works - OWL IN LOVE, THE WOMAN IN THE WALL, GOOSE CHASE, and LOST IN THE LABYRINTH are gems. Fourteen years later, OWL IN LOVE doesn't read as dated, but prescient of the YA genre's evolution. THE WOMAN IN THE WALL is both original and romantic. GOOSE CHASE is hilarious and perfect for fans of Shannon Hale. LOST IN THE LABYRINTH is a haunting historical, showcasing another side of Kindl. I can't wait to see what she'll show her readers next.
But don't take my word for it. Pick up one of her books for yourself.