CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 9 . . . . December 22, 2006
At birth, Sky was born with an amniotic membrane over his face, a caul. Now he wears the dried caul in a bag around his neck. People who are born with a caul, they say, are born with a "gift."
The story gets into gear with the annual summer visit of Sky’s 16-year-old cousin, Kristin. She used to be a tomboy, and a good companion, but last summer she was suddenly growing up and looking down on him. When this pair start playing with runestones they found in Sky's grandfather's old trunk in the attic, and using an Ouija board, things begin to get out of hand.
Sky is drawn to the ghost of his grandfather, Sigurd. Only we are not certain that it might have been Sigurd who drew Sky to him. Sigurd introduces Sky to the power of the runestones, allows him to inhabit the body of a Viking ancestor in 1066 before the walls of York while Kristin must remain behind to watch over Sky's unconscious body. One problem with using all this rune magic is that such magic eventually requires a blood sacrifice.
The book is well written. You can tell that the author is familiar with his subjects, whether it is runes, Viking weapons, or troubled teenagers. The historical settings are vivid and well done. The characters of the two young protagonists are well written and appear age-appropriate. The parents seem normal. The volume, of some 350 pages, contains a full page black and white map in the front of the book of England and Norway to allow the reader to follow along. There is also a four and a half page "Author's Notes" at the back of the volume where Humphreys provides some personal background as well as some of his reasons for writing this book.
This tale is not for everyone. If you don't approve of ghosts, dislike psychic happenings, feel ill at the description of close combat with sharp axes, dislike difficult decisions, then shy away. This tale will hold the reader's attention if you enjoy a thriller with a touch of mystery and history. It will make you want to keep turning the pages. You may also wish to leave all the lights on while reading and listening for creaking staircases.
Because this is the first volume of the saga, there are issues resolved by the end with enough still left hanging to warrant waiting in anticipation for the next volume.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.