Joining the romance and nostalgia of rural Americana with the powerful, page-turning appeal of the Gothic, Hoff has crafted a tale of passion and pathos, introducing these compelling new characters:Roman St. Clare--the Civil War photographer haunted by the slaying of his wife and unborn child. His relentless quest to find their murderer leads him to a remote area on Staten Island, where he must confront and be confronted by his own dark past.Amanda (Andy) Fairchild--the petite, auburn-haired beauty who, as owner of Graystone Manor, a secluded resort hotel, is suspicious of the stranger who has arrived at a time of great mystery and intrigue on the Island.Niles Rutherford--a brilliant young physician and Andy's lifelong friend, who, as her self-proclaimed protector, guards her well and, in return, demands more than her loyalty.Caught up in conflicting emotions and danger, these three find themselves ensnared in the age-old battle between Light and Darkness, fighting for their very lives ... and their love.
"Bentz uses the shopworn device of a plot unfolding in a dream to frame Song of Fire, but it's an exceptional fantasy in every other respect. A musician named Jeremy argues with his Christian girlfriend about the course his life should take; he skates off across a frozen lake and plunges through the ice into an alternate universe. In this world, Jeremy's music is prophetic and almost palpable. Through it, God makes his presence known to a suppressed cult called the Emajians. A righteous path has been ordained for Jeremy, but he doesn't know what it is, and even as he is hailed as a great prophet, he becomes a stooge for a clever ruler and his beautiful daughter. Bentz's sense of politics is shrewd and elegant as is his portrait of the ruling class, who regularly retire to their chambers and lose themselves in visions brought on by soporific "vapors." Bentz's story, of course, eventually resolves into a great battle between good and evil, but it is a most ingenious battle, and Bentz's speculations about the possibility of messiahs on other worlds are an intellectual delight. One is a little reminded of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars stories, except that Bentz is far subtler and more expansive. In Henderson's Nightwatch, a crisis erupts when a U.S. naval vessel is sunk in the Strait of Hormuz. Henderson's model is plainly Tom Clancy; he is adept with military jargon and procedures, and the northern Iraqi cult he portrays is intriguing. Some readers may also be drawn to the longish debate that one of Henderson's macho characters conducts with himself concerning the natures of marriage, bachelorhood, and spirituality. But, for the most part, Henderson's many characters drop by the wayside; it's plot that matters here, and Henderson has too much of it for his allotted pages. Series veteran Hoff starts her St. Clare trilogy with the workmanlike romance, Winds of Graystone Manor. Setting the series on Staten Island in the aftermath of the Civil War is rather original, and Hoff's troubled hero, Roman St. Clare, will suit genre romance fans. Hoff actually marries Roman off in this opener, but he's looking for his first wife's murderer as the story ends, so readers will probably come back for more. The prolific Huggins, author of the apocalyptic Reckoning [BKL Ja 15 95], offers, with Leviathan, another dark tale, this time about a monster derived from tampering with the DNA of a Komodo dragon. Huggins' technical knowledge is impressive throughout, and his novel may be worth reading because of it. But a story such as this can only go one way--that is, the way of Godzilla vs. Megalon and it does. Macfarlane's Pierced by a Sword chronicles the lives of a handful of Catholics through several years as the Marian Apparitions--or appearances of Mary--herald an earthly and mostly political apocalypse. Think of Alas, Babylon by way of The Late Great Planet Earth, and you'll have the idea; much of the novel is a diatribe against liberal media, the UN, female priests, etc. An antipope arises, and a World Union. Militia groups, which Macfarlane sides with, abound. Finally, the old and true pope surfaces and begins a series of broadcasts on shortwave--not the Internet!--and the world is saved. Sort of. Porter's Vienna Passage is a thoughtful coming-of-age story about a dour, deeply religous young Englishman, who takes a teaching job in Vienna at the turn of the century. Here is Porter's deadpan description of young Toby Burgate's heritage: "A few [Burgates] had ventured north to the Lakes and even on to lowland Scotland, but most had lived out their lives in the flat country, close to the sea, doing work they disliked but tolerated. There had been Burgates in Lancashire for almost five hundred years, and none of them had ever amounted to anything." Toby will amount to something, however, as appreciations of art and music flood over him, and as he falls in love. He learns that the anti-Semitism he sees all around him, and that at first he agrees with,"
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