David Conlin McLeod
hate bullies. Especially bullies who pick on poor kids. Ever notice
that those are the kids bigger bullies, i.e. pedophiles, target?
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has. So has David
Conlin McLeod, an oft-reviewed author on MyShelf.com who always
produces insightful horror of the M. Night Shyamalan kind.
Tucker has a miserable life. Her parents ignore her, beat each other
up and spend her breakfast and ballet money on cigarettes and beer.
The kids at school refuse to offer friendship (I also hate cliques).
It's the sort of life that often leads to teen pregnancies, drugs,
child runaways, prostitution, and Columbine. Or in CARRIE, a prom
night from hell. Carrie White's mother was driven by the Bible,
while Paige's parents worship at the altar of selfishness.
this is fiction, however, McLeod chooses to have Paige pick up a
gym leotard rather than a gun or a crack pipe, and visit a ballet
studio rather than the backseat of a boy's car. Paige has dreams
of studying at the world-class ballet studio run by Madame Rosalie,
and she finally plucks up the courage to enroll. There's the little
matter of how she's going to raise the tuition.
Paige's life is the horror plot twist. A mysterious, powerful ballet
mistress named Madame Tatiana has entered her dreams...a woman who
was herself abused and now threatens to make Paige's dreams into
nightmares with an eternal ballet audition (read slavery.) There's
a disturbing hint of female-female pedophilia that Paige naturally
shrinks from. Her fight for her dreams becomes a battle for her
very soul as she searches for an alternative to what my science
fiction professor Eric Rabkin called "the Faustian bargain,"
a common conflict in horror tales.
Paige has that Erin Brockovich/Tess D'urberville/Dorothy Gale spirit,
the kind that makes us stand up and cheer for all the picked-on
kids. Even without the exploding gym in CARRIE, this is a great
book sensitively written, and on top of all that, a terrific horror
read. It even features an appearance by McLeod's heroine Amy from
The Dragon's Tear Chronicle series.
Kristin Johnson is the author of BUTTERFLY WINGS: A Love Story.
She released her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING,
co-written with Mimi Cummins, in October 2003. Her third book,
ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific
Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D.