Even Stranger by Marilyn Messik

“I thought I’d knocked him out, but in a flash he’d turned on to all fours and was crawling swiftly, spider-like, back towards us. He still held the knife, so I set fire to the handle. The wood flamed and he hissed in pain but didn’t let go. It was all turning rather awkward.”

Having first met Stella as a child in Relatively Strange we now encounter her once again as an adult in the early 70s in Even Stranger. She is trying hard not to stand out by keeping her powers hidden as much as possible. From book one we know she can fly (though it’s more difficult when you’re bigger), move objects and use her mind to read other people’s. Following a series of unremarkable and often unsuccessful jobs, she decides to start her own service business. Whatever you need doing Stella will do it – from typing and research to picking up children and house sitting dogs (more of the latter later).

It’s been six years since her debacle with a group of people with similar abilities including the Peacock sisters, Gloria, Ed and Hamlet (a giant dog) plus Sam who they rescued from a dangerous government research facility looking into children with psi powers. Stella is aided in her new venture by her eccentric 83 year old aunt Kitty and Brenda who is employed to help them. There is also a snooty Borzoi (whom she acquired from a recently deceased client). I said there would be another dog. In this book Stella pits her wits and powers against three different foes and puts herself in danger as a result. Oh yes and there’s a new romance!! And creepy dolls.

It’s yet again a fabulous roller-coaster ride. Please don’t try to rationalise her powers – this is psi-fi and you need accept them from day one or you’ll be disappointed. I love Stella and her family and can’t wait for book three.

Relatively Strange by Marilyn Messik

I really love this book. I love the way it is written from Stella’s point of view with her dry and often irreverent humour – there were many times when I laughed out loud. Stella has powers unlike anyone else she knows. She can fly, she can move things with her mind and she can read other people’s thoughts. Sometimes this can be helpful, sometimes it can be a shock to know what others really think of her and sometimes she can just pry and be a nuisance. She can cause havoc and be the instigator of hilarious and disastrous consequences at parties and she can also be dangerous if she isn’t careful with her powers. As Stella herself says in the opening line: “I was five when I discovered I could fly, sixteen when I killed a man. Both events were unsettling in their own way.”

Then part way through she meets a group of people with similar powers who call on her to help them in a dangerous situation. This part I was not so keen on and wondered if the book was actually YA. However, I was still fascinated and kept reading. The last part of the book is different again and I think is probably leading up to the next in the series, which I shall definitely look out for.

Because Stella is a child and teen in the 60s and 70s (and Jewish to boot) I could identify with so much of the background to her family life and the period itself. The prose is so well written and frequently hilarious while at other times dark and scary. A wonderful read. Many thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.