The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle

The Arm of the Starfish coverWhen Adam Eddington is recommended for an internship in Portugal with marine biologist Dr. Calvin O’Keefe, he’s ready for the challenge. His confidence is shaken, though, when the doctor’s daughter, Poly, is kidnapped while temporarily in Adam’s care. Adam rescues Poly, but doing so places him in the middle of a conflict between Dr. O’Keefe and those with plans for his research—a conflict in which the “good guy” is far from apparent (for Adam, at least), and the potential for serious abuses of power is real. The Arm of the Starfish is on one level a spy novel, complete with exotic locations and conflicting powers supported by networks of allies and secret passwords. At its core, however, the story’s focus is on the question of trust: newly aware of his inability to handle things alone and faced with two very convincing stories, Adam is left with no option but to offer his loyalty to one side and accept the consequences.

Whether writing realistic fiction, fantasy, or political suspense, L’Engle has a knack for asking universally relevant questions in creative and engaging ways. With attention drawn to A Wrinkle in Time for its 50th anniversary, this is a great time for readers to discover some of L’Engle’s other novels. An added bonus: L’Engle’s characters have a habit of reappearing in other novels. Those familiar with Wrinkle will find out what happened to Meg and Calvin here, while those first introduced to L’Engle’s world through The Arm of the Starfish can follow Adam to A Ring of Endless Light and Troubling a Star, or rediscover Poly in Dragons in the Waters and An Acceptable Time.

Read the Kirkus review, or the more involved Tor review.

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