THE FUTURE SCROLLS
Kensington/Zebra, July 2001
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
In the year 1200, a monk writes a series of angelically inspired scrolls, full of prophecies concerning the next several centuries. Condemned by the Church, he entrusts them to his friend Alexander Mendeneres, whose family protects them secretly for 800 years.
Finally the Mendeneres guardianship goes awry. Another Alexander Mendeneres, the present day guardian, has a wife who hates him so much she steals the scrolls. Alexander will do anything - just anything - to get them back. This includes using his dearly loved daughter Maria as bait, to draw out of hiding his evil wife Valerie and her even more evil brother. Will they kill little Maria? Well, Alex hopes not, but the scrolls are important enough to make that sacrifice. The Pope believes revealing the scrolls will bring about a revival of faith in the modern world.
Ten-year-old Maria, lost and astray in New York City, latches onto lonely, twenty-something Dani Arnold. Dani is outraged by Alex as a father and repelled by him as an arrogant chauvinist, but mesmerized by him as a male. Alex, in return, finds that Dani can sometimes make him forget he is a married man with a set of scrolls to ransom from his wife. Alex sees that Dani would do anything for the adorable Maria, and arranges for her to become Maria’s caretaker. Hiding near friends in a small town, Maria entertainingly sets out to become a modern American girl, rather than an Argentine hacienda heiress.
THE FUTURE SCROLLS calls for the most reverent exclamations of horror I can find. How in Holy Heaven can anyone think that an antique set of predictions, many being generalities about things which have already happened, and for which a little girl’s life might well have been sacrificed, can revive faith in today’s population? If all it takes to revive faith is to show the world a miracle, more miraculous things happen every day. And – I risk being called a nitpicker here – anyone who knows anything about the writings of monks in 1200 A.D. could predict the scrolls would be dismissed as hoaxes. In 1200 A.D. monks were writing in books. Scrolls had stopped being used centuries before.
I would have been willing to buy into this unlikely scenario if the hero and heroine had been engaging or otherwise believable. Alex, a man with a mission, is focused on fulfilling the ancient trust assigned to his family. His attitude toward Maria and Dani is an amazing combination of protection and neglect. Dani, accurately taking Alex’s measure at just about first glance, still acts as if he has her hypnotized. Author Fern Michaels would have us believe that Alex isn’t normally like this: that he is, despite appearances, a loving father and family man. His actions say otherwise. The truly delightful little Maria is not enough to save this story of faith and hormones gone haywire.
After I wrote the above comments, I left them for a month. By the time I came back, the story had miraculously vanished from my memory. This proves one can read THE FUTURE SCROLLS with no permanent damage.
Aug 2003 Review
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