This, the first of a projected contemporary UFO trilogy set in the UK, is Follett’s first Kirkus appearance since Churchill’s Gold (1981). Days after reports that a UFO landed in the swamp at Pentworth, England, a rubbery, transparent, impenetrable barrier cuts the town off from the rest of reality. Teenager Vikki Taylor, who lost her hand in a childhood accident, grows a new one. Webcam exhibitionist and voyeur Cathy Price, confined to a wheelchair when her sense of balance was destroyed, finds she can walk again. Cathy, Vikki, and Detective Sergeant Mike Malone each take note of a semi-invisible, crablike metallic device, dubbed a “spyder.” After the barrier appears, cult leader Adrian Roscoe’s big farm operation helps feed people. But soon Adrian’s ranting about the need to destroy witches: at the top of his hit list is herbalist Ellen Duncan, whose storefront has been daubed with mysterious but significant graffiti. The local town council leader, Asquith Prescott, organizes a government of sorts, but before very long his rule veers toward the totalitarian. Then the intruders, whoever or whatever they are, begin to talk directly to Vikki.
So-so UFOlogy, with strong local color; take “trilogy,” however, in the modern sense, meaning that this is the arbitrary first chunk of a longer work in progress. Whether fans will be sufficiently intrigued to stick around for further installments is hard to say.