My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably. ‘It’s going to happen,’ she would tell me calmly. ‘I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it. My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.
The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Fantasy
Published: July 2014 by Text Publishing
Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.
But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.
The Astrologer’s Daughter evoked a longing in me to wander through familiar streets. A year ago, I spent winter in Melbourne so it was a nice throwback to see the city through Avicenna’s eyes. I’m slowly reading more books set in Australia when I venture outside my scifi fantasy den of reading.
I liked Avicenna’s eccentric life and the close bond she shares with her quirky mother. Avicenna is understandably wary of her inherited gift when all sorts of dodgy figures come into her life to seek (or demand) guidance in relation to their future fortunes. These demands expose the cruel underbelly of people’s desires. I also need to sit down with Avicenna to talk about why her crush on a fortune seeker like Ethan – a handsome but dodgy guy with issues and a mug full of angst – is not the ideal relationship for anyone.
Simon is a good counterpoint. Readers step halfway into their not quite enemies/friends dynamic as it moves towards a more understanding territory. It’s sweet but their dynamic might leave readers wanting more due to the realistic openness of the ending.
The story also dips into Avicenna’s thoughts on her mixed cultural background as filtered through her realistic experiences of not fitting into other people’s assumptions. Avicenna is very much a lost teen misfit but I liked that she was able to pick herself up. Avicenna’s devotion to her mother feeds her anguish, growth and determination to find her mother when she disappears.
The actual investigation around Avicenna’s mother does meander a bit as Avicenna is reluctantly pulled into other fortune seeker’s concerns and her final school project’s demands. I did not mind the tangents too much because I loved the realism of this strange world Avicenna inhabits. Astrology is a normal part of her family’s lineage but it also gives the story a bit of a surreal magical realist edge.
I’d recommend this to anyone interested in a quirky and sometimes, dark contemporary YA read. Not everything is resolved by the end but I thought that was true of life.