In this paranormal fantasy thriller, otherworldly forces battle the CIA and each other for control of a family with extraordinary abilities.
Maggie Stewart and her children, John and Rachael, are on the run from the Gray Department, a mysterious division of the CIA. The Stewarts are “talents,” the products of a government initiative to breed people with telekinetic powers and use them as agents against the Russians and Chinese. It turns out that others are following the Stewarts as well—operatives from an alternative universe called Purgatory. After Gray agents capture John and Rachael, Maggie plots to free them. So does Oliver, a Purgatory “ranger” whose mission is to take the Stewarts back with him, because a prophecy has said they’re needed to fight against the evil forces of Lucifer. Meanwhile, a mentally unstable man, Jurgis Phin, sets out to murder the Stewarts, and Grievely, a CIA infiltrator from Purgatory, is on a mission to turn the children into Lucifer’s agents. But his subordinate, Besque, hates talents and would gladly kill them all. As the various antagonists converge, their battle awakens yet another, ancient force deep under the Earth, which rises to wreak havoc. The suspenseful climax sets the stage for a sequel. Brown creates a complex, multilayered story full of nonstop action, intriguing characters and well-crafted scenes. Unfortunately, the novel is held back by a series of missteps: The prologue and the underground monster seem superfluous, the story’s reliance on Dantean and Miltonian Christian cosmology sometimes stifles its originality, and its numerous references to other books, authors and television programs seem forced. Also, the explanation of how the four universes interrelate isn’t convincing, and the political background of Purgatory lacks detail. At times, the story backtracks to follow different characters through the same time period, which can be confusing.
An ambitious, often exciting thriller that doesn’t quite reach its full potential.