LIGHTFALL by Paul Monette


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Iris Ammons, a 40-ish Connecticut psychiatrist, is suddenly transformed one day: she doesn't know who she is, forces are pulling her (""Run, cried a voice inside her""), and soon she's leaving husband and kids, taking a plane to California, and winding up in a mystic village called Pitts Landing. Meanwhile, cult leader Michael Roman is driven to murder his closest aides and then depart for Pitts Landing. What's going on here, you ask? Well, no one--including novelist Monette--seems quite sure. Apparently Iris and Michael are reincarnations of people involved in some 1588 catastrophe; and, as a solar eclipse approaches, they are fated to battle each other for the souls of the villagers . . . while, all around the nation, Roman's cultist followers are committing assorted atrocities. The body count here is high, then. There are fitful moments of erotic action: Michael forces the village mayor to perform fellatio; Iris and Michael finally reach a lustful, temporary truce. And at one point Michael commands his followers to start dismantling the town piece by piece. But, for the most part, this is one of those occult-cum-allegory quagmires that's short on action, heavy on cryptic dialogue (""This is all a dream. You know that, don't you?"") and portentous pronouncements: ""Her true home was here in the caves of the unfathomed night. Hadn't the prophet said as much?"" And though there are occasional glimmers of talent here--as there have been in Monette's previous novels--never before have they been so submerged in sheer murk and unpleasantness; so even fanciers of pretentious, kinky hoodoo may want to give this one a miss.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Avon