Copyright 2001 by
David L. Howells
I first read this on the 17th April 2002.
After her husband's death, life wasn't so easy for Rachel Hawthorn. She had a
young son, Alex, to bring up. At the time it seemed sheer good fortune that a
generous benefactor was willing to grant a college scholarship for her son. Now
however, Alex has reached his 21st birthday, and the benefactor will reveal
himself and what he wants from Alex.
Alex is a bright and level-headed young man, but this long-kept secret will
turn his world upside-down and stretch his credulity to breaking-point.
Down in Georgia, the ghosts of the American Civil War still relive their
battles and deaths, tied to this earthly realm by malevolent forces, unable
to escape, locked in an endless repetition.
And the ghost Vanessa, struggling to remember who she was and why she remains
on this earth, will strive (in her inimitable fashion), to free other ghosts
stranded, in thrall to their mortal deaths.
This is a very odd book. It's primarily a ghost story, but with a sufficient
dash of science fiction to allow me to review it on SF Reviews. Alex's
initiation reminds me of a comic book plot (and as a long time admirer of
Marvel Comics, this was something I
We're also dealing with some very competent, intelligent and charismatic characters
and as such they remarkably recall Heinlein's eponymous heroes with Ryan Fitzgalen as
Lazarus Long. Just as Heinlein's heroes have their occasional idiosyncrasy (e.g. Johann
and cosmetics in "I Will Fear No Evil"), so to do Lowell's characters. Specifically,
the group urge to - in what I can only assume is some form
of mass hysteria - burst into tears whenever the wind changes. This may be a
uniquely American attribute - as an Englishman I learned rapidly that were I to
so much as let a little teardrop shake on my eyelash, I'd be beaten around the
head with a chair and kicked out the of the house, if we'd had a house, and
indeed a chair, and if anyone could have been bothered. Well, there are liberal
quantities of tears in this book, indeed there are buckets of the damn things.
Dragging myself back to the subject of this being a odd book, indeed, the language and
the writing style are also rather unusual - with some surprising idioms and an odd use
of speech where I'd expect narrative.
So what did I think of this book? Well, once I got used to the writing style I
quite enjoyed the plot. There's humour, morality and human warmth in there along with
some excitement. But, remember, it's a ghost story and barely classifiable as SF.
Loaded on the 2nd June 2002.