THE FORTELLING by Alice Hoffman, a Review

I filled in the gap between Jennifer Egan’s Emerald City and Give a Boy a Gun this week by reading Alice Hoffman’s coming of age story, The Fortelling. This mystical, mythical 2005 publication is set in “ancient times of blood,” pre-dating history, when Amazons rode their magnificent horses across the Russian Steppes.

Rain, born in sorrow and destined to become queen, cannot force the current queen, her mother, to love her. Even the shaded illustrations and patterns on the pages create a misty background for the visions that come out of the fog and the smoke of the women’s fires. What is the significance of the black horse Rain sees when the ancient priestess throws her potions into the fires to accomplish the foretelling? What are the strange dreams she has that haunt and worry her as she changes from a warrior girl to a leader-queen?

Mothers and daughters alike will enjoy this novel where genres of YA and women’s literature are blurred. Better yet, read it aloud to each other, luxuriating in the poetic wording and phrasing handled so well by Hoffman. I recommend this novel to all women, regardless of their age or reading preferences.