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Reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm's darkly magical tales, The Perpetual Ending tells an enchanting story about devoted sisters and their world of opposites, doppelgangers and ghosts. Jane and Eugenie Ingrams are mirror-image twins, two halves of a whole, each understanding her world through the other. But their parents are less perfectly matched. When the couple separates and their father urges the girls to return with him to their rural home, Eugenie agrees for the sake of her sister--an ultimately tragic concession. Years later, Jane works as a writer in Vancouver creating rich, fabulist tales with her lover Simon, a gifted illustrator. Estranged from her parents and haunted by her secret family history, Jane finds solace in these stories of extraordinary characters--a girl who trades her laughter for a scalpful of cobwebs; a lonely child with unquenchable thirst; an orphan with the gift, or curse, of prophecy. Within the stories lie clues to Jane's past, of which Simon knows nothing. At once wondrous and psychologically compelling, The Perpetual Ending is an exploration of love and artistry that shows the world in all of its grotesqueness and beauty--and uncovers the surprising ways we can arrive at the heart of one story through the telling of others. When I was eight, my oldest sister began writing stories on her blue plastic typewriter. The way the paper rolled into the typewriter and out again was bewildering to me. I touched the beautiful pages in secret, feeling the letters. Some were tinged red from the wobbly ribbon, and the "g" always landed a little above the others, which let "flying" fly. What had gone in as smooth white paper was released as an inky textured sheet ofletters that made words that made stories. The one I loved best--which I read on the sly--was about a man whose wives kept dying. I was so impressed by the sweeping relentless tragedy that I, too, wrote a story--about a man whose wives kept dying. I gave the man a different name, of course. And I added more and more dying wives. They perished from mysterious illnesses, in cars that hurtled from cliffs, or in blazing, disfiguring fires. The man--lovely but unlucky, burdened with oodles of children--buried his wives in the backyard. Stone-cross ornaments on a velvet-green lawn. I don't remember how the story ended. Abruptly, I suspect, once another had begun. Poignant, heart-stopping tragedy in sloppy, smudged-pencil words. And not my first. Since I could form letters, I had been writing. It was I who wrote The Three Little Pigs, though only one pig appeared. He built his house from straw, the wolf threatened to blow it down, and then, "that was what he did." Again, not the happiest story. What makes me smile now are the words on the cover of that construction-paper book. "Open here and start." And on the last page: "Close here and stop." Already I was learning that a book was a world of sorts. You entered, tumbled, and emerged--you might even emerge changed. I still get chills whenever I think about Jane and Eugenie and their magical world in which fantastic characters live amid very real people. Kristen den Hartog has a voice that is wholly her own and unfailingly mesmerizing.--A.S.