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The Foreshadowing

Review

The Foreshadowing

Alexandra Fox can see the future. Before you start thinking that her story is one of predicting winning lottery numbers and envisioning her future husband, though, be forewarned that the only thing Alexandra is able to see in the future is death. It all starts when, at the age of five, Alexandra knows, with utter certainty, that her playmate Clare will die. When her friend does die suddenly, and when Alexandra has ongoing visions of death and destruction --- visions that always prove accurate --- Alexandra's parents and brothers soon start to see her as a freak, refusing to acknowledge her gift. Or is it a curse?

When World War I breaks out, 17-year-old Alexandra desperately wants to help. Her oldest brother Edgar enlists almost immediately, but her other brother Tom opposes the war and wants to be a doctor instead. Alexandra finally convinces her father to let her train as a nurse, but her premonitions of her patients' deaths become almost too much for her to handle. When family circumstances finally drive Tom to the front, Alexandra has a recurring vision of his death, a vision that compels her to follow him to France in a desperate attempt to avert his fate. On the way, she encounters a man, known only as Hoodoo Jack, who also sees terrible visions of the future. Is it possible that Alexandra is among the subjects of his premonitions?

As Alexandra delves deeper into the horrors of the Somme, she also undertakes a more introspective journey --- to try to discover the extent, and limitations, of her unusual gift. "If I can see the future, then what does that mean?" Alexandra writes. "It would be like knowing the end of a story right from the start, almost as if you were reading it backward. And who wants to know how their own story ends?" Marcus Sedgwick cleverly constructs THE FORESHADOWING in this way, beginning with Chapter 101 and counting down to Chapter 1, where Alexandra's story ends, but not in the way readers might expect.

Alexandra develops a feeling of kinship with mythical character Cassandra, who was doomed to foretell the future of the Trojan War, but was cursed to have no one believe her. Mythical overtones abound in Sedgwick's fascinating novel, which combines Alexandra's dreadful supernatural gift with the equally horrific realities of trench warfare. THE FORESHADOWING also combines historical accuracy with extraordinary suspense, and it raises profound questions about destiny, fate, and a young person's place in the world.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 23, 2006

The Foreshadowing
by Marcus Sedgwick

  • Publication Date: May 23, 2006
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385746466
  • ISBN-13: 9780385746465