The little orphan is the narrator of the story. She is adorable, innocent, disillusioned, with long blond hair, which she keeps long to hide the horrible scar on the right side of her face. The lengthy scar on her leg also gives her a complex. And despite the horrible treatment she is subjected to at the orphanage, she remains full of hope, soothed, for sure, by her friendship with Violeta and Vlad. Once adopted, she uses her ingenuity to put food on the family table. She finds ‘treasure’ in garbage, roadside or at the grocery store. Her ingenuity, resourcefulness and candour captures us, along with her incorrect usage of her own language which harkens back images of Momo, the charming hero in Romain Gary’s, “La Vie devant soi”. One auspicious day, little Loredana finds an old lamp, buried at the foot of a tree which she believes as solid as iron (or perhaps tin!), that it has magic powers, like Aladdin’s lamp. Meanwhile the Mother, a cleaning woman with an avid interest in vodka, suddenly dies from Cancer. Her Father sends Loredana away, discards her like defective merchandise. And, now back at the orphanage, new danger awaits her; the prostitution merchants! Luckily she has Violeta and Valentin, who would forever change her destiny.
With her heartless glare and crooked witch nose, one could say Madame Lupu was the Romanian version of Cruella in “101 Dalmatians”. She rules the orphanage with a heavy hand. She derives the most pleasure from torturing the deprived residents, and imposing unjust chores and punishments on them. She is also in partnership with the prostitution merchants who buy the children for resale via international adoption.
Vlad lives in the pavilion intended for the mentally retarded. He is mysterious, dark and handsome. He wears an unusual overcoat, constantly, even during the summer, which is known to be particularly intense in Romania. The monitors and residents dread Vlad because it is said that he bites, and may even suck the blood of his victims until they succumb to death. This earns him the moniker Vlad, as in the legend…Vlad Dracula, and his infamous castle, located in Transylvania, Northern Romania. He constantly reads, but easily abandons a book if he thinks he has an audience. He’s perceived as being autistic, but he’s really just talented! He teaches Loredana to read, and mysteriously predicts things by observing the movement of clouds, or their reflection, in a bowl of water.
Violeta lives in the older kids pavillion and quickly becomes the little orphans best friend. Governed by her suspicion of adults brought on by attempts by a family member to sexually abuse her, she protects Loredana, and reveals to her the sad and tragic truth about her past. Like a magician, crafty and shrewd, Violeta would also conjure an elaborate diversion in order for her friend to escape the orphanage, and elude the grip of prostitution merchants who intended to adopt her and sell her.
A young officer of the Securitate, the political secret police of the Ceausescu regime, Valentin is handsome, young, intense and brooding. Loredana and Valentin fall in love at first sight, despite their tender young ages. They are reunited years later, by some happy chance (yes, another one!) as the revolution rages on, and things could go one way or another. Thanks to Valentin, Loredana escapes Romania to Paris, on Christmas Eve. Which is where Loredana’s new life actually begins.
She is one of the supervisors of the orphanage, but unlike the others, she has a heart. She tries her best to protect Loredana, and she is secretly in love with Vlad because she has discovered his secret.
TESTIMONIALS FROM READERS
‘It’s extraordinary. I am upset and speechless. I think you’re doing a great bookstore success! ‘Jenny Langevin
‘It’s amazing to read the end. Wow, that’s wonderful. It only remains for me to buy a magic lamp! ‘Mariève Tremblay.