In the first installment of this fantasy trilogy, a young woman, who apparently experienced and forgot about mystical powers while under stress, slowly remembers a spiritual plane where the fate of humanity is being decided.
Baxter’s action-packed debut novel begins with Mary Catherine, a former child soldier, directing a mysterious power to attack a group of rebels holding her captive in Marinesia. This strange force kills the adult soldiers but spares the child conscripts. The episode leaves her with PTSD and no memory of the incident. After the event, Mary Catherine lives an uneventful life with her aunt in England. Enter Richard Pengellis, a reporter for the International Press currently writing about Marinesia. His questions and presence begin to jar her out of her amnesia. As their relationship grows and she reveals more about the mysterious spiritual realm, we also learn facts about Pengellis, his wife and deceased child that suggest deeper connections among the characters on another plane. There’s also a villain in the form of James Llewellyn, ostensibly Mary Catherine’s psychiatrist but, in reality, part of the Alliance, a secret society attempting to appropriate Mary Catherine’s powers for their own gain. Though the cast is somewhat one-dimensional—the good guys are too good and the bad are completely wicked—Baxter manages to build an intricate context for this fictitious world out of bits and pieces taken from world religions, mysticism, New-Age beliefs and even quantum physics. The author also takes great pains establishing a parallel world, developing empathetic characters to star in the next installment and constructing an excellent cliffhanger ending.
H.P. Lovecraft aficionados will be impressed by the way Baxter joins widely disparate ideas into a coherent vision; a vision that is sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi, fantasy and the supernatural.