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The Rainy Season

by James Blaylock

Library Journal: The coming of the rains to California's mission country releases a torrent of unusual activities surrounding a century-old mystery. Photographer Phil Ainsworth finds his life altered by the adoption of his late sister's child and the legacy she brings with her. As ghosts and strangers from the past seek redress for old grievances, a young girl's life hinges on the possession of a strange crystal and a magical well. The author of Winter Tides continues to display an uncanny talent for low-key, off-kilter drama, infusing the modern world with a supernatural tint. Blaylock's evocative prose and studied pacing make him one of the most distinctive contributors to American magical realism. Recommended for most libraries.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: The central conceit of this elegant, accomplished contemporary ghost story is that fuentes--springs in which children have been ritually drowned--are portals of inexact time travel. A byproduct of the ritual, and of time-traveling, is that memory is cast off in the form of a crystal stone, which allows its holder to experience the cast-off memory, which "might be transferred to living flesh." Hale Appleton, leader of the Societas Fraternia, a spiritualist cult, creates one such crystal in 1884. The stone is then stolen, and pursued to the present day. Timelines and characters overlap here. Scenes from previous centuries take place on the periphery of the present story line, wherein Phil Ainsworth, an insular photographer who lives in Southern California, where Appleton made his sacrifice, gains custody of his niece. People from the past and present converge on Ainsworth in an attempt to get the crystal, or to block the portal--a well on his property--from being neutralized. Ambitious plotting and characterization augment Blaylock's (Winter Tide) lush language (ripples in a well "cast a hundred shifting shadows... crisscrossing in geometric confusion"). This is one ghostly tale that stands on very solid ground. (Aug.) ("Paper Dragons," 1986) and one for best short story ("Thirteen Phantasms," 1997).

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms