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New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Prospectors" by Karen Russell

Issue: June 8 & 15, 2015

Story: "The Prospectors" by Karen Russell

Rating: $

Review: Knowing what I know about Karen Russell, I read this story with a very careful eye for when the "magic" was going to enter the story and, sure enough, right on schedule, the story's two protagonistas (if that's a word) find themselves at a lavish party in a secluded mountainside mansion...FULL OF GHOSTS! WHOA! Can you hear my sacrasm? If not, let me just tell you flat-out how little I care about hotels full of dead miners from the 1800s who don't even know they're dead yet. 

What was much, much more interesting were the secret double-lives of the two female main characters, who drift around the country working odd jobs and worming their way into the acquaintance of "high society" types, where they then go to fancy parties and creep around their hosts' homes -- and sometimes sleep with them -- in the hope of making a big score of jewels or at least having a little fun. 

Why did there need to be an old mansion full of ghost-miners? Is this young adult fiction? Should Karen Russell be writing young adult fiction? THAT I think is the real question here. 

Single "$" rating because it wasn't a bad read at all, in fact, until the ghost miners appear I didn't have to roll my eyes or put the magazine down once. The story keeps you going with prurient undertones between the two young women and also about what they might be up to at the party where they initially think they're going, as well as the sort of "interloper" trick whereby we are ushered into a foreign and exciting world through the eyes of normal people like us. 

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