(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Mockingbird is a kind of novel not often found from North American writers. Magic in the book is not condensed into spells or held apart as the province of wizards. Nor is it particularly marveled at by any of the characters. Nearly everyone who appears in the book takes the Beauchamp family gift for granted. Magic exists. It is something certain people can do. It has its benefits and costs. Treating magic in this way allows Stewart to spend more time examining the subtle changes this kind of magic creates in the Beauchamp family, the way that unpredictable power subtly deforms the interactions between people. Magic permeates every moment of Mockingbird, even when it is not actually happening, and in that sense the book is realistic; the Beauchamp magic is just there, in the same way that the troubled relationships between the Beauchamp women are just there, intractable and frustrating and occasionally wonderful.

The motif of the Little Lost Girl echoes throughout Mockingbird. Candy, who is struggling to leave behind an adolescence of promiscuity, is lost because of her feeling that Toni was the favored sister; Toni herself is lost because of her denial of the family gifts; their other sister Angela was literally lost in Canada, and still trying to find her footing with Toni and Candy. Elena Beauchamp, too, was lost, a woman with a terrible gift who tried and failed to go against her nature in the interest of her family. Each of them is found during the course of the story, but they must find each other, and the figure of the Mockingbird stays in the background looking over it all: one person who adopts many voices. The three sisters, for all their differences, ultimately speak with the Beauchamp voice; or, as the novel’s final line has it, “We are singers, in this family, and we are also songs.”