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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly The central conceit of this elegant, accomplished contemporary ghost story is that fuentesÄsprings in which children have been ritually drownedÄare 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 portalÄa well on his propertyÄfrom 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.) FYI: Blaylock has received two World Fantasy Awards, one for best short fiction ("Paper Dragons," 1986) and one for best short story ("Thirteen Phantasms," 1997). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list Blaylock continues to extend his range, this time with a novel of quiet--but not entirely psychological--horror. In southern California, underground aquifers may lie hidden for years, and in a rainy season, vanished pools and springs may suddenly reappear or even flood. One such pool turns out to hold more than water. Those who wade into it may thereafter wade out of their own proper time and not always be lucky enough to ever wade back. Inevitably, once what is happening by accident is understood, the foolhardy and the corrupt try to use the pool deliberately, with lethal results for themselves and others. Blaylock constructs what might be described as a leisurely page-turner: one wants to find out what comes next but doesn't feel compelled to rush onward to do so. Fans of horror in general--especially those who don't demand a high body count--as well as dedicated Blaylock fans will be well pleased. --Roland Green
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.