Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: September 1, 2012
Block, Francesca Lia (Author)
Oct 2012. 320 p. St. Martin's, hardcover, $24.99. (9781250005496).
A newly enrolled freshman at Cal Berkeley, 18-year-old Ariel, is distraught by her mother’s cancer and the disappearance of her best friend, Jeni, whom she vows to find. In the meantime, Ariel meets a trio of eccentric graduate students, John, Tania, and Perry, and quickly falls in love with John and, to a lesser extent, with the other two as well. But love, as Block has written elsewhere, is a dangerous angel, and Ariel’s encounters with her new friends soon take on an ominous tone as The Elementals becomes a fever dream of a novel, an exercise in the surreal. Who are John, Tania, and Perry? Could they be figures from a dream or figments of the increasingly troubled Ariel’s imagination? And might she find Jeni through them? Few novelists mix reality and magic better than Block, though the magic here is very dark, and the atmosphere she creates with her richly ornamental language is sometimes as purposely oppressive as a greenhouse on a hot summer day. Drawing on occasional elements from her earlier work, Block has nevertheless fashioned a novel that is both familiar and original and represents a new and salutary maturity in her evolving work.
— Michael Cart