The Realm of Secondhand Souls by Sandra Shea

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The realm of secondhand souls is a place where antique fabrics hold the secrets of their former owners, where found objects uncover lost worlds, and where a uniquely gifted young woman who has lost nearly everything finally finds herself. In her mesmerizing first novel, Sandra Shea recounts the life of Novena, born on a hot summer night surrounded by a circle of aunts, who offer the protection of their unfettered love. But when Novena is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt Elegia and four boy cousins, she retreats from their boisterous clamor into the realm of her imagination. It provides safe haven for years -- until she is forced back into the world by a tragic disappearance connected to her cousin Zan, torturer of all creatures smaller than himself. Blaming herself for the tragedy, Novena escapes to live with her great-aunt Annaluna, who is besieged by demons of her own, including the ones that reside in the hundreds of shoes that fill her apartment. It is only when Novena stumbles into a vintage clothing store called God of Sand that she begins to recognize her special gifts of insight. In the tattered folds of yesterday's suits and chemises, she can sense the hidden histories and memories that help her stitch her life back together. The setting for THE REALM OF SECONDHAND SOULS is unmistakably contemporary, yet time and place remain deliberately filmy, beautifully illustrating the vaporous, murky boundaries between our dreams and our memories, between the seen and the unseen, and between past and present in a modern world where nostalgia is paramount. Sandra Shea's magical novel is a story of how our families possess us and how our possessions become our family. Enter this mysterious and unforgettable realm, and you will never want to leave.

About Sandra Shea

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Sandra Shea was the founding editor of the Boston Phoenix Literary Supplement. She currently writes for the Philadelphia Daily News, where she serves on the editorial board.
Published January 19, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 400 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Novena, more than a bit fey and waiflike, is a sensitive girl whose otherworldly spirit (she creates from remnants of boys’ shirts objects that function as love potions) and essentially outcast state bring her into a hesitant loving relationship with a lonely storekeeper, a sense of what may be h...

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