A morose provincial inspector of roads in Aragon settles down to write the fable of the Snow Queen. The Netherlands has now been stretched into a vast country with Northern flatlands and hazardous Alpine ranges in the south. Kai and Lucia are circus illusionists, and when Kai is kidnapped, Lucia must rescue him from the Snow Queen's palace.
In the Dutch Mountains is an elegantly constructed story within a story, laced with the wit that characterises the work of this outstanding European writer.
A Spanish government official who aspires to be a writer narrates this strange story of a supernatural world filled with unexpected characters, scenes and situations. At the most accessible level the tale revolves around raven-haired Kai and golden-haired Lucia, circus illusionists, both flawlessly beautiful and perfectly happy and both, naturally, destined to come to grief. He's kidnapped by the evil Snow Queen whose chauffeur and stud he's compelled to become; she has comparably trying experiences. But Dutch novelist-poet-playwright- translator Nooteboom is concerned with more complex matters: in the modern spirit he is exploring metaphysical and esthetic mazes. When you say "once upon a time,'' the narrator remarks, you have created an ``extratemporal and extraterritorial reality in which anything is possible''; and ``fairy tales are beloved lies told by people who find the failed myth of life intolerable.'' In this engaging, imaginative work of experimental fiction, evil is finally expunged in a bloodbath, and the beautiful, sore-tried pair are reunited. QPBC alternate.