The Dancing Floor

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In THE DANCING FLOOR, author Barbara Michaels continues her themes of ancient beliefs and the ambiguous and frequently twisted ties between parent and child. While witchcraft plays a role in her current novel, three destructive parent-child relationships dominate the story.

Following the deaths of her selfish mother and loving father, Heather Tradescant makes the trip of her father’s dreams, to view England’s beautiful gardens. After being turned away at the gate of Troyton House, Heather tries to find a back way to view the ancient gardens. Exploring a gap in the hedgerow, she finds herself in a hidden maze. Panicked by a glimpse of a horrifying face, she runs out of the maze and falls at the feet of Franklin Karim and his son Jordan.

Karim insists Heather remain to help restore his recently purchased gardens because she shares the last name of their original designer. While part of the household, she becomes involved in the lives of its inhabitants and their frequent guests. Jordan, Karim’s adult son, is alternately ridiculed and ignored by his father. The previous owners, Giles and Lindsay Betancourt, have a deteriorating marriage and a delinquent son, Bob.

After setting fire to a chicken house, Bob disappears. During the search for Bob, someone poisons Heather and, hidden beneath her bed, she finds a puppet stabbed with thorns. Later, Troyton House is set ablaze. Bob, thought to be hiding in the maze, is blamed. While searching the maze, the culprit of the attacks on Heather and the fire is revealed.

Michaels adeptly weaves the aspects of witchcraft with the intriguing and mysterious characters occupying this young woman’s coming-of-age story.