In some places, the veil between this world and the next is stretched very thin. In thin places unearthly powers can be drawn upon and twelve-year-old Mees Kipp accesses these powers to bring the dead back to life. Mees and her friends Sunny and Lorna stumble across the body of Mr. Banner face down on the local beach. While Sunny and Lorna run to call for help, Mees stays behind and reaches inside to pull Mr. Banner back through the veil. Thus begins the tale of an unusual summer in the small New England village of Varennes.
The Thin Place is the story of the inhabitants of Varennes; the people, animals and even the earth. Kathryn Davis has created a cacophony of unique voices, each pitch a small part of the complete composition. Like the ubiquitous blackflies which permeate The Thin Place, each character is necessary to Varennes’ biosphere. Initially the swarm of characters may simply annoy readers; however, in time each individual becomes clear and its part defined.
While The Thin Place is definitely a character driven novel, Davis obviously enjoys playing with language. Her descriptions are inventive and she ably captures the thought patterns of young girls. “Soon he wouldn’t be able to contain his anger, whirling around and giving Mees a piece of his mind. A piece of his mind, Lorna thought. He did that so often, no wonder it sometimes seemed like there wasn’t any left.” However, Davis doesn’t restrict her inventive prose to the human narrators. She weaves various elements into her engrossing novel; police logs, old journals, horoscopes, sermons, and the viewpoints of animals, plants and even the earth find voice here.
“Life has nowhere to move, being everywhere, doesn’t move though it’s always in motion, is the leaf is the trash is the girl’s pierced navel the worm the cat’s paw the lengthening shadows.” Words, like the characters, intertwine to create patterns and hyper-awareness of the otherness of Varennes - and the novel Davis has crafted.
Summarizing The Thin Place is no easy task; it must be read to be fully appreciated. She expects her readers to follow her through this created labyrinth and just as readers believe they have found the path and are on solid footing, the ground moves again. She challenges readers with obscure mystical references and yet on the surface The Thin Place feels accessible. In the end, Kathryn Davis forces readers to explore the thin places around them and contemplate the nature of life and death.
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: February 1, 2007
tags: books book reviews Kathryn Davis