Horns and WrinklesIt’s hardly a secret on Claire’s stretch of the Mississippi river – the Wisconsin/Minnesota stretch – that things rivery are a bit witchy. Even the local sheriff knows that. So Claire’s not entirely surprised when she and her bully of a cousin, Duke, bump into a strange woman who can make things float. She’s a little more surprised when Duke’s nose starts to turn into a rhinoceros horn, but then her grandfather explains that this happens every so often – to her great-great-great-granduncle, for instance – and those afflicted either recover or they disappear. So when it looks like the best chance to get everyone restored, Claire’s perfectly ready to go off on the river with Duke and a trio of river trolls.

Horns & Wrinkles is fun and quite clever, though a mite predictable. Also a mite sloppy – the background’s a bit sketchy, leaving me curious as to how the mythology and the magic work in this world. (Though if you’re going to be sloppy, you might as well do so in a way which makes your readers more curious. But that’s an awfully fine line to walk.) In many ways it was nothing special, but there is something to the storytelling; it’s subtle, but it has the rhythm of folklore. The network of small towns forming one community around the river, accepting its oddities as part of life and allowing their children adventures and risks, is not something we see often. And it makes a lovely break from the real world.

Horns & Wrinkles