by Erica Wagner

Faber and Faber, 2007. ISBN 978-0-571-22759-4.
Reviewed by Edith O'Nuallain
Posted on 07/21/2008

Fiction: Mainstream

Seizure is one of those few gems we occasionally come across, usually by accident. It has that rare ability to reach into your deepest psyche and give expression to dreams, memories, and half-felt experiences that normally lie hidden, deeply buried under the dross of everyday life. Reading this book is like being offered a chance to peer through a glass darkly, to briefly lift up the corners of the veil. Wagner takes us into a world of fairy tales and ancient myths of the sea, enveloping her reader in a mist as dense as the one that surrounds her main character, Janet. Janet suffers from brain seizures that leave her limp and exhausted, a background to the dreamlike states she experiences in daily life. Is what we see merely a figment of her imagination or is this a sighting of the invisible realms that accompany our daily lives?

The atmospheric mood evoked by the author lingers long after you have put the book down. The delicate, eerie images haunted my dreams for weeks after I finished the book. Wagner achieves this magical effect through a skillful interweaving of bedtime stories told by a mysterious raconteur and gradually disclosed secrets. In the silent spaces between the two worlds, the author displays her ability to render prose into poetry. Read this book for the gift of its beautiful suggestiveness, and prepare to be drawn into another world.

Erica Wagner was born in New York City. She is the author of Gravity: Stories, a collection of short stories, and Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters, a non-fiction book about Hughes and Plath, She lives in London, where she is the literary editor of The Times. Visit her website.

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