Frances is taking a break from her troubled family life and spending some time with cousins in a coastal English village.
The blackouts that she’s had off and on for years are becoming more frequent. What she hasn’t shared with anyone is that following each blackout, she creates drawings that are beginning to unnerve her. She meets a man in his 20s named Peter who sells postcards from his beach hut in Helmstown and who recognizes her as someone like him: a messenger of death. Peter also has blackouts, after which he paints minutely detailed scenes of someone dying. Within two days he must deliver the painting to that person or risk harm coming to someone he’s close to. Frances decides to take a different approach by trying to change events to prevent the deaths her drawings depict, but that has its own consequences. This unusual story’s strength lies in the depth of characterization that the author teases out of Frances’ introspection about her brother, who’s on the run from the police, as well as strong dialogue that reveals Peter’s struggle with the effects his strange power has had on his personal relationships. The premise is a bit thin, but it neatly serves as the vehicle by which Frances comes into her own.
Quietly thrilling. (Fantasy. 12-17)