THE MULTITUDE by J.M. Fraser

THE MULTITUDE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An angel tries to save the grim alternate world she’s inadvertently created in Fraser’s (The Witch of the Hills, 2018, etc.) fantasy.

After witnessing the horror of the Hiroshima bombing, Angel Gabriella decides to make a change. Believing the source of trouble is religion, as many varieties are “magnets for violence,” she travels back nearly 2,000 years via the World of Mortal Dreams. She uses dreams and persuasion to convince someone to eliminate one particular religion’s founder, but a return to the 1940s reveals nothing has changed. Gabriella learns her actions have split the world in two, and a couple millennia later, the alternate universe is no better than the original. The other world may need a messiah, and Gabriella finds one in each world: Carla and Maynya. Evidently, splitting the universe also split souls, and the angel plans to reunite the girls’ souls. A strategy slowly forms, involving Carla’s death in 2012 and a man in the original world named Brewster DeLay, who, like Carla, has a counterpart in the other. Brewster and Carla meet in dreams (they’re separated by time; he’s one year into her future). But as they both fall for each other, they may search for a way to cheat death. Though Fraser’s story lingers on Brewster and Carla’s developing relationship, it also bounces between worlds with ease. Gabriella, who retains the appearance of a young girl, is fascinating. She sees signs from God but acknowledges mistakes, and there’s even a question of what she genuinely is: an angel, fallen angel, or something else. Fraser takes the material seriously and openly addresses religion without deriding or criticizing any specific one. Lightening things up, however, is radiant prose: “Falling leaves paint-gunned the lawns in a variety of autumn colors. He caught a whiff of burning brush, a seasonal fragrance saying trick or treat.” There are few surprises, but the story picks up in the final act when characters in both time periods ultimately converge.

Riveting time periods tied together by a delightfully eccentric protagonist.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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