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The Soul Mender by R.S. Dabney Kirkus Star

The Soul Mender

From the The Soul Mender Trilogy series, volume 1

by R.S. Dabney

Pub Date: May 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-692-47201-9
Publisher: CreateSpace

A debut novel follows a young woman as she struggles to come to grips with the realization that in a parallel universe everyone has an opposite.

This first installment of a trilogy focuses on the morally principled Riley Dale. Just days after graduating from college in Boulder, Colorado, Riley finds her world upended when she grasps that recent disturbing events—her grandmother dies of a heart attack, she stumbles across the body of a serial killer’s latest victim, and she apprehends that her bizarre visions seem much more than bad dreams—are all tied together. When she uncovers clues in her grandmother’s attic that point to not only the existence of a parallel world, but also her relative’s intimate knowledge of it, Riley unwillingly embarks on a dangerous journey of self-discovery. This quest brings her to the parallel world, where she meets her opposite self, a drug-addicted young woman whose entire life has been filled with hardship. A man trying to help Riley navigate this frightening new world tells her that she remains forever linked to this woman (“Basically, you are still connected…even though you live in two different worlds. If something really bad were to happen to this Riley, the same thing would happen to you”). Targeted by the police and assassins, the two women, unlikely partners, must stay alive long enough to figure out an operation to save the world. Dabney offers an utterly readable fusion of speculative fiction, mystery, biblical myth, and mainstream thriller. While parallel universes and alternate realities have been fertile concepts explored by fantasy and sci-fi writers for decades, the author brings a freshness to the well-trod subjects by giving the topics a deeply spiritual, biblical twist. Additionally, her savvy use of tension and pacing delivers a thrilling read, making the volume virtually impossible to put down. The only criticisms are largely unavoidable in a series opener—many questions regarding Riley’s abilities and ultimate goal to “heal the world” are left unanswered, and the conclusion is less than satisfying, being a respite more than any kind of ending. 

Judging by the engrossing first volume, this trilogy about two heroines’ perilous mission has the potential to be not only highly entertaining, but profoundly edifying as well.