GEMINI ASCENDING by Mark John Terranova

GEMINI ASCENDING

Tempting Eternity
From the "Gemini Ascending" series, volume 2
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An immortal and a psychiatric patient may be the only ones who can stop a potential catastrophe on Earth in this second installment of a fantasy series.

James Montgomery is a centuries-old immortal with abilities such as telepathy. Fate has linked him with John Parella Jr., who, in the mid-1990s, is undergoing psychiatric treatment in Pennsylvania. Evidently, both men are on quests that may restore balance in the world. If they aren’t successful, Earth will face an “unimaginable fate” affecting the entire universe. James is on his way to Penang, Malaysia, with his wife, SuiLeng, and her two sons. His destiny entails evolving into a more powerful being. He begins his “transmogrification process” at Snake Temple, with one of four stages of transformation. With help from his brother-in-law, Winston, James endures a few torturous days and attains greater strength as well as a slightly altered physical appearance. Meanwhile, John has heard voices for years, but psychiatrists, like Dr. Katherine Duhring, quickly learn he may not be insane. With John under hypnosis, Zach emerges—not an alternate personality, but a separate entity residing in John’s subconscious. Enigmatic Dr. Adolphus Junger has his eyes on both men, with an apparent extrasensory perception allowing him to watch James in Malaysia. But James and Winston soon return to the United States in the hopes of freeing the former’s imprisoned fraternal twin, who’s an immortal gorgon. Though James isn’t short on enemies, his biggest threat may be Abdullah, a mysterious individual who could prove a menace to SuiLeng and her boys. 

Terranova’s (Gemini Ascending: Book 1: Eternal Twins, 2017, etc.) sequel begins with Chapter 22, following a summary of the preceding installment’s 21 chapters. The succinct summary adequately details the earlier plot but doesn’t clarify everything. For example, it’s unclear how Junger has been “manipulating” James’ life or how he can “steer the fate of the world.” This book nevertheless clearly elucidates other plot points, like what specific danger Earth is possibly facing and Junger’s somewhat cryptic but still engrossing genesis. Though much of the narrative is dialogue, Terranova’s concise prose generates memorable scenes. James’ mental and physical trials at Snake Temple, for one, include regular beatings and exposure to snake venom. Even the doctors somehow inside John’s subconscious lead to tangible components, as they’re “at a dirt crossroads in a lush valley,” surrounded by “streams, fields, and farm land.” The story triumphantly fuses fantasy with real-world relationships: Junger and Katherine’s association is complicated since they’re former lovers while SuiLeng isn’t keen on James’ telepathic link to his twin, especially during private spousal moments. But Terranova’s novel isn’t quite the “self-contained” story that he asserts it is in his preface. Though the Book 1 recap eases new readers into the tale, it still feels like part of a larger saga. The sequel opens with subplots in progress (for example, John’s hypnosis) and leaves numerous plot threads untied for, presumably, a future installment to pick up. Regardless, the strong ending will likely spark readers’ interest in continuing the series.

A captivating otherworldly sequel that should appeal to both new and returning readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-977207-86-9
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Program: Kirkus Indie
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