TO SWIM BENEATH THE EARTH by Ginger Bensman

TO SWIM BENEATH THE EARTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman discovers that she’s the reincarnated spirit of an Inca warrior in this imaginative debut novel.

When young emergency room doctor Megan Kimsey’s father passes away unexpectedly, her world collapses. Strange visions, similar to those she had as a child, start to intrude on her life. Then she finds a package from her late father containing a ticket to an archaeological conference in Bogotà, Colombia. It turns out Megan became an object of intense academic curiosity after her father sent copies of her unusual childhood drawings to a prominent researcher. Against her family’s strong objections (particularly those of her overbearing mother), she travels to South America, where she gets caught up in an Indiana Jones–style adventure as she strives to discover the truth about her paranormal gifts. Wisely, Bensman never attempts to offer a logical explanation for the origins of Megan’s mysterious visions, which involve troubling memories of a child sacrifice. Rather, she simply presents these past-life experiences as fact and then uses them to explore the effects of trauma on the human psyche. When Megan was a child, a girl that she cared for died under tragic circumstances; by succumbing to her visions, Megan is able to achieve a measure of closure for both herself and for Illapa, the father of the sacrificed child who died centuries earlier. The passages that describe Megan’s journeys to the distant past are among the book’s most affecting. Less effective, though, are the scenes set in Colorado before Megan goes to Colombia. This back story is important, but the writing lacks the verve of the later chapters. Particularly sluggish are the sections dealing with Megan and her mother, as there’s no resolution to their conflict. But once the action shifts to South America, the novel becomes brisk and engaging as dashes of action and romance enliven the otherwise serious story. Also impressive is Bensman’s commitment to authentic historical and linguistic details, which effectively transport readers to the Colombian milieu.

An often elegantly crafted story that explores the love between parents and their children and how people come to terms with the loss of loved ones.

Publisher: Horn Rimmed Editions
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:




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