Today, I’d like to rave about a new fantasy tale by another local writer. The Lake and the Library, by S. M. Beiko, is an imaginative tale about Ashleigh, a sixteen-year old malcontent, who has waited ten years to hear her mother say, “Were leaving.” Getting out of the crumbling, incredibly boring small Manitoba town has been the only thing she’s talked to her friends about for more than half her life. However, now that it’s becoming a reality, she’s discovered something that threatens to keep her there forever.
The Lake and the Library is not just about a girl wishing to leave a dull life behind and finding excitement in a place that seems too good to be true, it’s an analogy of what books do, in general. They take us to places where dreams come true, where we can interact in fantasy worlds, and where spirits become real. The Library holds such magic for Ash.
When she strikes out on her own without her friends, Tabitha and Paul, to learn the secrets of a place she has always felt held a certain mystery, Ash discovers more than she bargained for. At the abandoned building, she meets an intriguing, yet mute, guy, who silently draws her away from the humdrum into a make-believe world of their own making. It’s a hurricane ride that threatens to overturn her lifeboat of reality and plunge her into the depths of madness.
I found the story fascinating. Samantha’s references to so many classics made me want to go back and immerse myself in those words, once more, and I hope it will encourage her young readers to check them out for themselves, if they haven’t already read them. Her descriptions transport the reader into the magical library and make them feel as if they are Ash, taking part in a marvelous adventure and falling in love with a boy who seems to be everything she’s been craving.
Since the Library becomes a bit of an addiction for Ash, as a reader (and a mom), I felt a certain amount of anxiety while reading, worrying how far Ash would go before she’s lost all touch with reality and what that might do to her. I would love to find out if the story affects a teen the same way or whether they’d feel like Ash and not want it to end! That shows how powerful a story this is, when I can be that drawn into the story that I feel intense motherly protectiveness towards a fictional character!
I hope you will check out The Lake and the Library and let me know what you think. Did you feel the same way I did, or did you just float along and enjoy the magic, like Ash?
The Lake and the Library book blurb:
Wishing for something more than her adventureless life, 16-year-old Ash eagerly awaits the move she and her mother are taking from their dull, drab life in the prairie town of Treade. But as Ash counts the days, she finds her way into a mysterious, condemned building on the outskirts of town—one that has haunted her entire childhood with secrets and questions. What she finds inside is an untouched library, inhabited by an enchanting mute named Li. Brightened by Li’s charm and his indulgence in her dreams, Ash becomes locked in a world of dusty books and dying memories, with Li becoming the attachment to Treade she never wanted. This haunting and romantic debut novel explores the blurry boundary between the real and imagined with a narrative that illustrates the power and potency of literacy.
About S. M. Beiko:
S. M. Beiko holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Manitoba and this is her first novel. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.