Lips the colour of blood, the sun an unprecedented orange, train wheels that sound like 'guilt, and guilt, and guilt': these are just some of the things Mary Ventura begins to notice on her journey to the ninth kingdom.0'But what is the ninth kingdom?' she asks a kind-seeming lady in her carriage. 'It is the kingdom of the frozen will,' comes the reply. 'There is no going back.'0Sylvia Plath's strange, dark tale of independence over infanticide, written not long after she herself left home, grapples with mortality in motion.00There is good reason to suppose that Plath would have wanted this work of fiction printed: she submitted it to Mademoiselle magazine in 1953, although it was rejected. The prose is not as radiant as in her 1963 novel, The Bell Jar, published 11 years later, but there is still plenty to admire: a masterly ratcheting up of tension over 40 pages; short, simple sentences that slip between the ribs. As the heroine, Mary, gradually realises that the destination the train is bound for (the Dantean ?ninth kingdom?) is probably not somewhere she?d like to end up, she shrugs off her wearying passivity and takes action.