By Rebecca Lim
Available now from Text Publishing
Rebecca Lim, author of the popular Mercy series, has written a thrilling contemporary mystery with coming-of-age elements and a hint of the paranormal. Avicenna Crowe will always stick out in a crowd. She's half Chinese with a large chest and a burn scar that covers half of her face and one of her ears. Mostly she's a regular (smart) high school student. Her mom, the astrologer, is the special one.
And then her mom goes missing.
Avicenna is thrown by the loss of her remaining parent. (Her father died in the fire that scarred her.) She's just eighteen, so basically stuck to fend for herself. Strangely, there's thousands more in their band account than there should be. There are also three clients left unfinished who want Avicenna to do their horary reading when they learn she knows how. And Avicenna knows not to leave business unfinished, although these might be the very answers that got her mother into trouble. Meanwhile, Simon Thorn is a thorn in her side about that school project they have to complete.
Lim writes beautifully. She brings this pocket of Australia and the outsized characters who inhabit it to life. I particularly like the sympathetic policeman who tries to keep Avicenna on an even keel and make sure that she's all right, beyond keeping her informed about the ongoing investigation. I liked Avicenna herself, who seems like a mostly practical girl who is still too young to totally handle the convoluted mess she's landed in.
I'm not into New Age stuff at all, but I like how the horoscopes were handle. It's just something Avicenna knows how to do, and her family has a knack for it. It's treated more as something dangerous to live your live by than a good idea.
The ending is a bit messy, and a few threads are left unfinished. I'm not sure if Lim intends to write more about these characters, but I could see it being a series. As is, it is a wonderfully emotional mystery that shows the strange ways people can be tied together.