VERONICA by Nicholas Christopher


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 From an accomplished poet and second-novelist (The Soloist, 1986): a page-turning yarn about magic and time-travel set in modern Manhattan. Again, Christopher offers little poetry but lots of lean, action-packed prose. A renowned magician disappears in the middle of his act, leaving friends and family to fear that he's been trapped in another dimension by Starwood, his bitter rival. Meanwhile, Veronica, the magician's daughter and assistant, sets in motion a complex series of mystical events in order for her father to return to the here and now, using alchemy, Tibetan mysticism, Chinese philosophy, and old-fashioned magic to try to rescue him from oblivion. Enemy Starwood, however, has several tricks up his own sorcerer's sleeve and will stop at nothing to keep Veronica's father confined to history and space. Thus Veronica recruits Leo, the hapless narrator, who's accidentally stumbled into her circle of blind mystics, star-powered musicians, invisible dogs, and mind- reading, astral-projecting relatives. Leo's quickly drawn into Veronica's deadly maneuverings and soon finds himself at Sir Walter Raleigh's execution, then pursued through time by various mystical creatures. Exciting as all this is, the reader increasingly laments the absence of palpably human characters and responses: The entire time that Leo is being tricked, hoodwinked, and duped into a variety of life-threatening, multidimensional experiences, he never comments on or questions the genuinely fantastic adventures he's taking part in, and no one else, either, reacts in any way other than by whipping out a new magic potion or changeling dagger. When the battle-royal that ends atop the Empire State Building finally rolls around, there's little reason to root for any of the cosmic gladiators. High-class, Victorian-style fantasy of the fourth dimension spoiled, unfortunately, by one-dimensional characters.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-31471-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995


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