April Witch

Majgull Axelsson

Readers went nuts for this book in Sweden. After reading the English translation by Linda Schenck, I can understand some, but not all, of the fervor. Desiree, who was born with birth defects that keep her mostly bedridden, is an "April witch" who can control others with her psychic powers. Abandoned at birth in the intolerant 1950s, Desiree now obsesses over the lives of her three "sisters"—foster children, now adults, who were raised by Desiree’s mother and are pretty screwed up themselves. I found myself both sympathizing with and hating all of the characters, so don’t be surprised if you walk away from this book with an unsettling feeling. But however off-putting they may be, Axelsson’s characters are multifaceted and crackling with intensity, and her tone is refreshingly blunt and crisp. Dislikes: The psychic element feels secondary to the story, and the ending was somewhat anticlimactic.