January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Greek mythology is full of monsters who devour young virgins. In this fine novel set in Greece in 1959, the monster is both a serial killer and a mythic embodiment of all that awaits a girl of 13 who suddenly looks ”stupendous” in a tight pink dress. The girl in Fear is Anna Karystinou, the passionately inquisitive child who blazed her way through Irini Spanidou’s marvelous first novel, God’s Snake, with her hopefulness intact. Here her 14th year unfolds like a tender, sexy movie in brief scenes of intense clarity. Brilliant, courageous Anna — the artist as a very young woman indeed — outwits the monster who terrorizes her classmates by reducing him to merely human scale (”When he kills, it’s a desperate act, a crying out for love”), and escapes his realm of fear. A

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