An atypical time travel sci-fi, book two in Margaret Wander-Bonanno's preternatural series stands on its own with new characters and a mystery to solve.
Karen Guerreri is a middle-aged sci-fi writer haunted by abuse she suffered as a child. Karen's carping mother wants to see her write a 'real' book. Her lover has just left her for a younger woman who is 'perfect' for him. She is being evicted from her apartment because her rent is in the rears. Could life be more together? Karen begins working on a sequel to an odd little first contact sci-fi she wrote that became a motion picture yanking her out of debt. Her story was spawned by her relationship with a species of intergalactic telepathic jellyfish, the S.oteri. Fuchsia, one of the 'jelepathic tellies' takes exception to Karen's narrative and flings her to Gaul in the time just before Richard I is daubed lion heart by history for being the most gifted killer of his generation. Karen feels there is some purpose for the disruption in her life and sets about finding what she is supposed to do. Her time traveling escapades also ancient Gaul a few days before the Celts are slaughtered by Rome and Berlin 1945. When Karen gets back her ex-lover does not exist. History has been changed. She must retrace her adventure to discover what went wrong and why she was thrown into the mix in the first place.
Bonanno does a masterful job of handling multiple subplots twisting them with the storyline into a live wire as her electrifying characters jolt you into places lit up with superb imagery. Her story warns of danger in having power and not the maturity to handle it.
Bonanno's characters are her forte. Born in the strangest places, they are all very human, (or not.) You can't help but feel they're people you know. An autobiographical protagonist summons readers who enjoy women issues as she banters with the S.oteri who have less of a clue about life than she does, and they all struggle with demons. As character development can't help but happen from one book to the next in a series, and so goes Karen Guerreri, but I don't think this story lost much without back-story from Preternatural. You will want to read book one, but will enjoy the talents of this skilled writer if you haven't yet when you read Preternatural Too: Gyre.
Very enjoyable reading. Hang on to your pillow. No telling where you will land or when. I look forward to what Margaret Wander Bonanno will materialize for us next.
Review © October 2000. Susan Bailey-Halaney
Copyright © sffworld.com. If quoted please credit "sffworld.com, name of reviewer".