(2) YA Translated by Emma Ramadan. Horror, mystery, sci-fi, historical fiction of sorts--this story partakes of all four. Manon is a tiny child when she's left in the woods after a carriage accident and a scientist's violent murder. Saved from the killers by a flock of butterflies, she's rescued by a peasant who commits her to a convent school--whence she escapes, only to become the victim of a cruel scientist. But who--and what--is this child with red eyes? Brière-Haquet keeps the answer well concealed. Switching points of view often, the omniscient narrator gives us bits of story through many characters--among others, a peasant, a detective, a poetess, a nun, even a dog. Letters to Charles Darwin from the murdered scientist are interspersed throughout, raising questions about humanity and humility (e.g., are the ways humans organize themselves the only ways to be?). A novel of ideas cloaked in skulduggery and populated with textbook villains, the story's momentum is created by the threat of mysterious menace hanging over Manon. The tale is set in 1881 London but includes a few vintage American colloquialisms ("gosh darn it," says one character) while suggesting an environmental message pertinent to the present.


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