Off the Shelf: Andromeda Klein

Andromeda KleinAndromeda Klein by Frank Portman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Andromeda Klein is a teenaged occultist whose love of the Art is matched only by her love of books. As she starts a new year at high school, she has a lot going on: her companion-in-esoterica Daisy has died, her estranged boyfriend St. Steve is inconstant, her parents are difficult, her body seems intent on sabotaging her, & the library where she works is getting rid of a bunch of books she loves. As Andromeda pinballs between home, school & work, she contemplates her troubles & the eerie coincidences that keep popping up in her tarot readings. Her intuition tells her something is up.

Andromeda is a familiar character to me: she’s bookish, has weird hair & smells books. After my desire to give her a hug & some big-sister encouragement passed, I really wanted to sit her down & talk to her about bibliophilia & the occult. (I kept wanting to show her my Haindl deck.) Portman’s knowledge of these two subjects gives this coming-of-age story a unique voice. But while these interests flavor the text, it also detracts some from the story. I agree with my friend who recommended the book to me; there is almost too much going on & events fly by. Andromeda’s relationships with Daisy & St. Steve are given some definition early in the book, but for most of the novel are just made up of Andromeda’s yearnings. Her book-saving program is interrupted despite the fact that there might be some conflict with the estate that donated the materials–a plot point that’s not really resolved. Our heroine even banishes a few demons, but it’s seemingly all in a day’s work for her.

While AK is an interesting character, readers might struggle to get the measure of her connections with others, which is a major theme in the book. But, Portman’s novel is still an enjoyable, captivating read. I kind of wish this was a series, either as text or a graphic novel, because there’s a lot of potential here.

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