A violinist’s destiny is connected to a mysterious man in Scott’s sci-fi fantasy.
Ellen Trent’s musical talent blossoms at a camp at the Brevard Music Center. One evening, she meets an enigmatic man named Source who’s at the camp to perform with his group, the Toronto String Quintet. Ellen and Source’s connection is instantaneous, but he soon disappears. Several years pass, and Ellen is a rising star in her university’s music department. She hopes to become concertmaster, but the position is awarded instead to transfer student Colin Jennings. Despite her disappointment, she becomes fast friends with Colin, who’s angling for a romantic relationship with her. When Source reappears, though, Ellen’s feelings for him resurface as well. Eventually, she learns that Source is from a planet called Modallarys, and he’s tasked with preparing her to join him on his own planet. He’s also fallen in love with Ellen, though, which puts him in grave danger. Later, when she believes that Source has died, Ellen pursues a romance with Colin, but she’s roiled by a series of tragedies, including the death of her best friend, Jane. After Ellen receives a mysterious note, she discovers that danger may be closer than she thinks. Scott’s narrative is ambitious—a curious pastiche of sci-fi, fantasy, and erotic romance. However, some scenes end too abruptly, and the character development is uneven throughout. The novel’s greatest strengths lie in its settings and its use of music and historical events to add context to the story, which spans more than a decade. Although the narrative is fast-paced throughout, it sometimes moves so quickly that scenes seem somewhat truncated, particularly at the beginning. Source is a strong, well-defined hero whose scenes with Ellen are sweet and erotic. However, Ellen’s characterization is inconsistent; in some scenes, she’s tough and witty, but in others, she comes across as immature and crude. For example, as she describes her feelings for Source, she remarks, “If this is what love feels like, then it sucks hairy gargantuan balls.”
A fantasy romance that boasts an intriguing premise and detailed settings, but it’s somewhat diminished by inconsistent characterizations and awkward pacing.