Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Audition

By David Conlin McLeod

     I 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 who always produces insightful horror of the M. Night Shyamalan kind.

     Paige 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.

    Since 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.

     Complicating 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.

     But 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.

The Book

September 7, 2004
More at 



The Reviewer

Kristin Johnson
Reviewed 2005
NOTE: 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.
© 2005