Doina Rusti has a heroine who is as confused and distractible as most 14-year olds are. She is at times brilliant and at times flighty. Her emotions whirl uncontrollably. She loves and hates and loves again. She rushes to judgment then realizes she was wrong. Or was she? James Christian Brown’s translation captures, I think, the spirit of Rusti’s novel. He does not try to force it into a more American/English format. He allows it to breathe, to carry the Eastern European heart behind it. Pâtca is very identifiable and relatable as a young adult, but is also quite different in her perspective than a teenager in other places might be. Then again, I have never met an immature 18th Century occultist.
Whether Pâtca is an ordinary teenager with a vivid imagination or someone much more powerful is not immediately obvious. What is immediately obvious is that she is an intelligent and strong willed young woman, highly emotional and sometimes prone to impulsive decisions, but intriguing and beguiling all the same. There is magic in this book, and not all of it is found in the recipes.