by Gavin GrantMay, 2004
The Child Goddess by Louise Marley covers ground similar to Mary Doria Russell's book-group favorite The Sparrow. In a near future very similar to the present (except with space flight), Isabel Burke, a priest in the Order of Mary Magdalene, is asked to travel to Virimund. Virimund was thought to be uninhabited until a group of semi-feral children is discovered. During first contact, one of the children has been killed and an injured child has been taken into protective custody. Apart from there being no adults on Virimund, there is something odd about these children: they do not seem to be growing older. Complicating the journey and Isabel's job is Simon Burke. Burke is a top scientist at World Health, and he and Isabel had previously worked together in the Australian outback, where they became deeply attracted to one another. Even though Isabel is bound by her oath of celibacy and Burke is married Burke's wife is a busy, but sad character who is mostly seen waiting by the phone their relationship is a key factor in the book. Burke is the one person who knows enough about viruses in children to work with Isabel to solve the mystery. In The Child Goddess, Marley brings together religious and medical ethics and asks what we want from the universe and how far we are willing to go to get it. This interesting novel will generate much discussion among readers.