2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Struck with the devastating news of a severe illness, 15-year-old Muriel escapes to the Crucible of Creation. Within this mysterious place, Muriel discovers a unique cast of characters who teach her valuable lessons of self-discovery and observation. As her condition becomes more serious, the experiences help her to cope with the diagnosis and discover a higher level of thinking.
Muriel’s Monster, by Martin Slevin, is an allegorical tale that blends reality and fantasy in a creative narrative. The journey through the Crucible correlates with the reality of what’s happening physically to Muriel and explores the events happening internally and externally.
I loved the characters within the Crucible. From the donkey with the kind eyes and the humble hippopotamus to the wise wizard in the magic castle and even the quirky language teacher, the cast was diverse, and each presented a lesson for Muriel to ponder. These lessons were often philosophical, and Muriel did not understand many things in the beginning. Throughout her journey, however, she opens her mind and can apply the lessons as she matures. As Muriel learned new things, I was able to start putting the pieces of the allegory together. I enjoyed each revelation as I understood what was happening and even Googled a few things to confirm my suspicions.
The book is very artistically written with instant transitions from Muriel’s conscious thoughts to the fantasy world and often from character to character within that world. While some of these transitions added stylistic value to the book, other shifts required a page break to indicate the change of time or location. For example: at one point, Muriel is looking in the mirror at her home, but in the next paragraph, she is in the office of the medical consultant discussing the latest news of her condition. There were also several transitions in the very first chapters of the book that switch from Muriel’s movement through the Crucible to an entirely different perspective of the Monster growing in the Twisted Mountains. These switches were jolting and a bit distracting as the book progressed.
With some editing issues throughout, I was going to give this book a solid 3 out of 4. The concept was creative, and I enjoyed following Muriel’s journey and character growth. By the end, I had put together most of the symbolic bits and was settling in for an emotional ending. I noticed, however, that the second section of the book became more repetitive as the end approached. Then the final chapter gave another detailed discussion of what each part of the Crucible represented. It was tedious to have to go over everything again when the author had already given quite a few clues throughout the story. Therefore, I decided to give a rating of 2 out of 4.
Still, the book had many engaging portions and humous anecdotes mixed in with many philosophical lessons. This book should be an excellent read for those who enjoy allegory, fantasy, and loveable talking animals. There is no sexual content and very mild language. The only concern I would point out is Muriel’s friend, who mentions that she’s going to “do it” and in another conversation reveals that she’s “done it,” but no details are explicitly given.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon