by Scott Wilbanks
Oh my, where do I start? This is a time travel book, my favorite subject, with an interesting selection of misfit characters. As far as the mechanism for time travel goes, it's a simple magic door, or actually a more complex magic door than the usual, but we're only given hints about how it actually works.
It starts out in 1895 with some rough city life and the leader of a sandlot gang being warned to flee, though we don't yet know why. The gang are pickpockets and scrounge food in an almost Dickensian situation, only they're in Kansas City. Then we move out into the country in Kansas and still in 1895 and meet Elsbeth Grundy. She owns a farm, but one day finds a house on her back 40 and writes the occupant a letter of complaint.
The letter is received by Annabelle Aster, only she lives in 1995 San Francisco and sees the farmhouse as an intruder into her back yard in her own time and location. There was an anomaly about other girls swooning over David Cassidy when Annie was growing up, which seemed to be in the wrong era, but otherwise so far so good.
Annabelle writes back to Elsbeth, explaining her side of things and the story begins to develop into something that becomes very interesting and intricate. Annie shows the farm to her best friend, Christian, who has his own strange experiences of repeatedly seeing a face in a crowd. On one occasion time seems to slow down while this is occurring, then speeds up again.
There's a great quote in reference to dumbing down writing: "Never lower yourself for others. Make them rise to you. Whether they can or not is their burden, not yours."
The writing for this story is very good and I considered giving it the full 5 stars, but a few things towards the end could use some clarification and I had to stretch belief a little far concerning something about the bad guy's sidekick.
The story did include an excellently written high tension climax, some very creative methods of self defence and the most erotic kiss I've ever read, ever! The erotica writers could take some lessons from this.
I'm being careful about saying too much about the plot because part of the joy of reading this story was discovering the intricate connections along the way. It involves a stage magician, a murder, some rough business dealings and hiding a baby in time. I found it all very original and absorbing and pretty much read the second half of the book in one sitting.
In places it feels like a nice story of friendships between women, or an in-depth look at flexible morality issues, or a high action story of intrigue. There's something of everything in there and plenty of mystery to boot. Most importantly, it was a great read and will leave me remembering the characters for some time to come. I'll also be keeping an eye out for anything else written by this author.