(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Morgan was a special child from the moment of birth. The constant companion of her father, wrapped in the warm web of his love, alive to the family farm’s sights, sounds, and smells, Morgan usually forgets that she is a dwarf.

Forget, that is, until Cora marries her father. Cora tries to be friendly, but she is a city girl alien to Morgan’s world of forest, moonbeams, and cobwebs. Cora takes up Dad’s time, keeps Morgan from the occasional refuge of his bed, and gives him a normal daughter.

When a powerful bomb falls on London, Morgan and her family flee to an underground shelter in the woods to escape the impending holocaust. Soon they find themselves trapped inside. Only Morgan is small enough to crawl out and go for help. She discovers George, her dog, dead, shot by her father to prevent a drain on supplies. Morgan also discovers that the countryside is normal: There was only one bomb, not a world war. Morgan decides to leave her family entombed. When she seeks a new, independent life in the town, she finds people hostile to, puzzled by, or condescending toward her physical deformity. Returning to the forest, she sits beside the shelter to ponder her fate and her family’s.

COBWEBWALKING is a mesmerizing blend of contraries: contemporary setting and fairy-tale landscape, adult consciousness and adolescent imagination, realistic detail and magical happening. Banerji is a skillful storyteller: As Morgan narrates, she mixes memory with current experience, only gradually confessing her profound anger at losing her idyllic, pre-Cora, existence. Each new revelation by Morgan forces the reader to reevaluate her previous limited admissions.

This is not a book to skim or to put down. With a bewitching heroine, powerful archetypal conflicts, and a poetic sensibility toward nature, COBWEBWALKING is as rare and delicate as the activity its title names.