This is set off-world. A girl is doing interviews to be a babysitter. She gets the job but soon finds herself in danger. I don't remember much but on this world the trees are like shapes and there are spiky geometric things about (if you watched Doctor Strange, that imagery is so on point)

There is a description of women with gaudy kohl on their eyes and what is probably a hijab or baklava although they didn't use the terms. I found that very striking because nobody I knew wore garb from head to toe and nobody revealed the eyes.

What I remember most is that the planet affected her and the boy differently. Her feet would try to burrow into the ground like they were becoming roots and she would feel energy from the earth. I think the boy was always trying to go to sleep, and she thought that sleeping was dangerous. I think she gave him the last of the water...

Apparently there is a whole colony of humans on that abandoned rock. In the end she and some guy she met were fixing up an old space shuttle to fly away from there.

  • 1
    I assume this was a written story. Was it a short story or a novella or a book?
    – Valorum
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:36
  • What is "gaudy kohl"?
    – Valorum
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:39
  • 2
    It's a dark cosmetic used in many places.
    – K-H-W
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:43
  • It was a book. It is an old book, small but very tiny writing packed in as was the case with older novels. I read it around the same time as Starship Troopers if that is any help. Kohl is like dark eyeliner, dark eyeshadow. In the boom the female protagonist says gaudy Kohl, as if this person was not being demure at all despite her head to toe garb. I think another part of the book is that she was in an eating establishment and shouldn't have attempted to eat the food as it was acidic to humans, and she sputtered from the fumes and thought she'd fail the interview.
    – Neru
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:56
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    I hope you meant balaclava, and not baklava. Unless they're wearing Greek pastry.
    – Joe L.
    Jan 18, 2017 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Dread Companion by Andre Norton. From an Amazon review:

It's an odd amalgamation, but I think it works well because her story is anchored by the governess, Kilda and her brave attempts to rescue her charges. Almost as soon as she meets the children, Kilda realizes that the girl Bartare has some kind of unnatural hold over her younger brother, Oomark. The governess does everything she can to solve the mystery of Bartare's invisible `Dread Companion'---invisible that is, until Kilda and her charges are yanked into Faerie.

Kilda has to drink the water of Faerie before she can even see properly. The boy Oomark stays with her, but eats freely of alien fruit. When Kilda finally regains her normal vision, Oomark has begun a physical transformation into a creature of hooves and horns---a faun. Kilda must now struggle to stay human, locate a gate back to the sane world of the 25th century, keep Oomark by her side, and find Bartare who has gone to join the Dread Companion she believes to be her true mother.

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    I have Dread Companion, and there is no mention of kohl in it, gaudy or otherwise. Jan 18, 2017 at 9:16
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    When she went to the interview, one of the other women had a lot of gaudy glitter round her eyes.
    – sueelleker
    Jan 18, 2017 at 22:10
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    And not only were the eyeholes in her veil edged in glitter (those of her neighbor being bound in plain material), but they were also of a width to bedazzle the viewer. That's the closest I can find. Jan 19, 2017 at 6:02
  • Sueelleker, John Rennie thank you for the clarifications and for helping me find closure with this book.
    – Neru
    Mar 5, 2017 at 5:22

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