The frustrated in love know it, the barren women, the silent poets, the lustful priests--all those who suffer from cursed lives. By ones and twos, in carriages, on horseback, on foot, they flock to the Maze at the heart of the city Labirinto.
Five pilgrims, with their enemies, their drinking buddies, and their chance-met companions, journey across a richly imagined Renaissance Italy alive with adventures and magic, to meet in the great Labyrinth. Their adventures grow ever more baroque, comical, and magical, until they reach the heart of the Maze, and perhaps, their hearts' desire.
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In the Italian city of Labirinto, there is a Maze where all can find their heart's desire. There are only two problems: getting in, and getting out. In the world of this new novel from Midori (The Flight of Michael McBride), masks talk and sea nymphs and satyrs walk beside the classical personae of the Commedia dell'Arte?than whom none could be more ribald, mischievous and all-too-human. The patter is delicious as characters trade insults or love coos, all worthy of Moliere. The plot is as intricate as an old Gozzi scenario or one of Plautus's domestic farces, full of scoundrels, fools, lovers ("innamorati") and braggarts getting in one another's way as they converge on the Maze to lift their various curses. The Maze, for its moral and psychological resonances, is reminiscent of Charles G. Finney's 1935 classic, The Circus of Dr. Lao. Of many interlocking subplots, one involves the forced collaboration of a voiceless siren and a poet who has muted his poetic vice to practice law; they plead for comfort before the severed head of Orpheus. Another plot pairs a stuttering actor and a mask maker's myopic daughter as innamorati as they free each other through the Maze. The mask maker herself enters the Maze and joins bloodthirsty, reveling Bacchae to throw off the curse of her faithless lover. It's fairly miraculous how Snyder pulls all this off; she does, though. The hybrid of street theater and fantasy seems to spin itself into existence before the reader's eyes. Farts, decapitations and sirens' songs are equally likely and equally delightful in this amazing story. Even the few purple passages, which seem clumsy at first, turn out to be quite apt in the fabric of the remarkable whole.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Distinctive medieval fantasy from the author of various paperbacks (Belden's Keep, not reviewed, etc.). The highly magical Great Maze at the heart of the city Labirinto reputedly has the power to remove curses, and draws to itself an astonishing array of characters who are destined to interact in fascinating ways. Anna Forsetti of Venice once crafted beautiful masks that talk, but now cant work for the curse of thorns tearing at her womb; joining Anna on her quest will be her bespectacled daughter, Mirabella, her long-suffering patron Roberto, and the young priest Don Gianlucca, with whom Anna slept and got drunk. From Milan, the fencing master Rinaldo Gustiano seeks redress from his lover, the whore Simonetta Morello, who, forced to kill a violent, abusive client, steals Rinaldo's sword, horse, and clothes. Fabrizio is an aspiring actor with a stutter. Erminia, a Siren disguised as a goatherd (she communicates by magically creating visual images), hopes to outwit her ancient enemy, Orpheus, and win freedom for her people. Lorenzo is a failed poet-turned-clerk with a rogue, Giano, as a servant. Abused beggar and thief Zizola, in cursing her tormentors, generates a lava-creature, Zolfo, that consumes her enemies. All these folk and others will meet in the Maze and, after various adventures, gain what they deserve; in true Renaissance style the various pairs of lovers will eventually find one another. But Zizola must find a way to call back her curse lest Zolfo destroy the Maze altogether. Captivating stuff, with a kiss of the fingers, a whisper of lace, and a stiletto up the sleeve: after this, even stubborn monoglots will find themselves mumbling in Italian. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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