Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sleeping in Flame, by Jonathan Carroll. Tom Doherty Associates, 1988

Walker Easterling, divorced American screenwriter living in Vienna, meets the woman of his dreams, Maris York. Their attraction is immediate and goes far beyond physicality; they are connected on a deep level from the first minute of meeting. At the same time, some strange things start happening. Not just strange- things that should be impossible. But in this world of Carroll’s, magic is not only possible, but not even very remarkable. What alarms Walker and Maris is that bad things start happening, too. A friend knows a shaman, though, who can probably help Walker. A southern Californian, TV and sandwich obsessed shaman with a bulldog and a pot-bellied pig for companions.

It soon becomes obvious that Walker has lived previous lives, and that his father may be at the heart of his troubles. An adopted child, Walker doesn’t know who is biological father is. Finding out turns out to be key to saving his life and the lives of those he loves. And not only does Walker discover that not just magic and reincarnation are real, but some fairy tales are, too.

The book is modern magic, old fairy tales brought into the late 20th century. Walker is the knight on a quest, and Maris is the enchanted princess he must save. It’s a lovely, fun story to read, right up to the end. The end is good- it’s fairly unique- but it comes off as rushed, as though Carroll ran out of time to finish. All the pieces are there at the ending, really, but they’re just thrown together. Still, that isn’t enough to make me call it a bad book. Just not a perfect one. 

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