Item description for Mockingbird by Sean Stewart...
"Wonderfully vivid."-William Gibson
"Stephen King meets Ibsen. Trust me."-Neal Stephenson
Elena Beauchamp used magic the way other people used credit cards. Now that she's dead, her daughters have a debt to pay. Set in Houston, Texas, this is a dark, witty, moving novel of voodoo, pregnancy, and family ties. A New York Times Notable Book.
Outline Review There was no question that Toni Beauchamp's mother, Elena, could work magic. She used magic the way other people use credit cards, ringing up huge bills to get the things she wanted. But the debts had to be paid off sooner or later, and in this case payment meant letting one of the six lesser gods known as Riders take possession of her body. When Elena died, Toni and her sister Candy thought the magic died with her. But their mother left them a gift that couldn't be refused, and now Toni finds herself endowed with the same powers she once despised in her mother. And if that wasn't enough, her mother also left behind emotional, financial, and familial disasters that she and Candy must find some way to cope with. --Craig E. Engler
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Jul 10, 2005
Publisher Small Beer Press
ISBN 1931520097 ISBN13 9781931520096
Availability 0 units.
More About Sean Stewart
Sean Stewart is the author of the innovative I Love Bees and Beast search operas, two short stories, and the novels Perfect Circle, Mockingbird, Galveston, Clouds End, Nobody's Son, Passion Play, and Resurrection Man.
Sean Stewart currently resides in the state of California. Sean Stewart was born in 1965.
Reviews - What do customers think about Mockingbird?
"he glanced at the chifforobe where Momma's gods were watching us" Apr 19, 2008
Have you ever had a writer who you do not quite like, but keep reading anyhow because the parts that you do like make you suspect that you would eventually like them a lot? (How's that for a tortured sentence?)
Sean Stewart is one of those writers for me. I have read Clouds End and Galveston before reading Mockingbird. I sort of liked them both, but there was something insubstantial about them. Clouds End was too delicate-- soap bubble reading. Galveston was more substantial; there were overtones of Tim Powers, who I like very much. Unfortunately, the plot ultimately disappointed me-- it zigged where it should have zagged, or meandered just that little bit too much, or something.
So then I decided to read Mockingbird.
I think that one of the things that makes this novel so strong is that the plot is not terribly ambitious, but still quite well developed. It takes a familiar story-- the death of a family matriarch-- and spins out into the chain of events that follow. The book features two sisters, some household Gods, a pregnancy and family secrets. It is a small scope, but one which allows Stewart to mine a fertile vein of emotion, atmosphere, and private magic.
I very much like the small kitchen garden nature of both the story and the magic. At this point in my life, I am at least a little bit tired of the "fate of the world rests on my shoulders" kinds of speculative fiction novels. It can still be done well, but I appreciate the mysteries of everyday life even more.
It also appeals to my love of all things sideways that Mockingbird does not fit neatly within genre lines. In his author notes for the book, Stewart says: "So after several books of drunkard's walk across genre lines, I finally fell off the edge of the world with this one."
Good for him, I say. I plan to look for his other books with renewed enthusiasm.
There are some gifts which may not be refused Aug 8, 2007
Once in a while, I reach a point in a book when I have to stop and realize "Oh, this is going to be GOOD." Sometimes that is early on, sometimes it is not until halfway through. Some books make that promise but don't deliver, and others never even make the promise in the first place. Sean Stewart's "Mockingbird" not only has that moment, but it delivers on it brilliantly.
It happens on page three, with the description of Geronimo, the zombie frog.
What seems at first like something clever, funny, almost cute in its concept (the idea of a zombie frog) becomes something far more disturbing and real when examined more closely. This simple event, something that happens fairly early in Toni Beauchamp's life, sets the stage for the story and the tone for the rest of the novel. It was my "Oh, this is going to be good" moment...and oh, it was.
As the story begins, Toni Beauchamp's mother dies, and she is left to figure out what to do with her debt, both spiritual and financial, as well as what to do with her inheritance -- her mother's gift for magic. Thing is, she doesn't want that gift. Her mother, a famous (in some circles) voodoo practitioner, has kept magic a part of her life and her daughters' lives, and Toni wants to be done with it. She finds, however, that she doesn't have much choice, and her family's gift has a way of creeping back into her life again and again.
Sean Stewart is at his best when he dances along the edge of the fantastic, but he always manages to keep his feet in the real world as well. Just as he did in the excellent "Perfect Circle," his story in "Mockingbird" treats magic and mysticism as only a part of his characters' lives, and not even the most significant part. His characters still have jobs, they still have friends, families, and all the little details that make up all of our lives -- and as if that didn't make things complicated enough, they have to add magic into the mix as well. In "Mockingbird," as in the best of Stewart's stories, a real-world sensibility is what grounds the story, even when the story is about magic. It is a difficult feat to pull off, but I have never seen anyone do it better than Stewart does.
When you can tell a story about voodoo, family, pregnancy, dating, possession, and even have a zombie frog in there, and make it all work together, you know you've got something good. "Mockingbird" is a novel that gets all of it right, and you'll know it right from somewhere on page three.
Refreshingly different and very readable. Oct 14, 2006
I first discovered Sean Steward in Perfect Circle, which is his best book to date in my not-so-humble opinion. This one comes close though. In this book, like Perfect Circle, Stewart writes in a way that is very readable and occasionally drops in such clever and well-written phrases and sentences that I actually stepped back and appreciated the writing skill as well as the story. That is not to say that you lose your immersion in the story, and it is not to say that he is wordy or pretentious. Just the opposite. It is prose that is a delight to read.
The story is interesting, but it is the characters that will drive you to the end. That is Stewart's strength. He writes people you are interested in knowing more about.
In a nutshell, I'd recommend Perfect Circle and Mockingbird as a pair - great reading!
A high-wire act that works Mar 4, 2005
Go to the "look inside the book" function above, and click on "excerpt;" that takes you to the first page of Sean Stewart's Mockingbird. (You can also get there through the "intro pages" links.) Read the first paragraph. If you're hooked, like I was, you'll love this book.
Like me, you may instantly flip to the bio to check the author's gender. Sean, Sean, isn't that a guy's name? And is he really writing from the first-person perspective of a woman who, the book's first sentence makes plain, gets pregnant in the course of the story?
Yep. And most of the other main characters are women, too. This is a high-wire act, and boy does Stewart pull it off. I found his characters and their magical-realist situation very believable, and he writes with style, and humor that's richer than wit or cleverness.
I can't say I'm surprised by any of that, except the first-person thing. What brought me to Mockingbird is, of all things, Stewart's entry into franchise fiction: his book Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, a Star Wars novel set very shortly before the upcoming movie "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." I've read dozens of Star Wars novels, and this is one of my two or three favorites, again for how Stewart fleshes out characters' inner lives and for the color in his writing. (The book feels like he had a *great* time writing it.) I'm going on about it at length here to bring it to the attention of Stewart fans who might not otherwise try a Star Wars novel. If you saw Ep.II in 2002 and plan to see Ep.III, try it out. You don't need any more background than that, and it'll enhance your enjoyment of Yoda, Count Dooku, and the movies' other characters.
Strangely Unfamiliar Jun 19, 2002
A magical-realism-Southern-family-saga, with voodoo thrown in, thought it's never called voodoo, and isn't the popular image of voodoo...and many, many intriguing twists. Set in Houston, it's the story of the daughters of Elena, recently deceased, who could foresee the future, cast small spells, even raise the dead, but mostly--terrifyingly--is the host to six Riders, small gods, the eerie fetishes of which she keeps in a chifferobe in the living room. When she is being Ridden, then it's these small gods' turns to walk around, change lives, give advice or orders which no one would think opf disobeying...And after she dies, it's the responsibility/curse of her elder daughter, a practical, plain, money-making actuary, to take over...
Really well done. Strange and intriguing without being mad-slasher-esque.