Atlantic Bridge Publishing, Dec 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
The remains of five young women have been found in a little-known area
near Yosemite National Park. They are carefully laid out with signs of
Wiccan ritual, and residents of the nearby town of Mariposa are all too
eager to point the finger at the group of Wiccans who live not far away.
Sheriff Bill Ashton, who knows the high priestess, thinks itís unlikely.
As if this case werenít enough trouble, another young woman has
disappeared in Sheriff Ashtonís jurisdiction. A bright red sports car is
found abandoned, with half a million dollars left in the front seat. The
missing womanís sister, Captain Arden Jones of the US Air Force, arrives
with the intention of taking charge of the departmentís search for the
lost Samantha. While the reader eavesdrops on the brainwashing of Samantha
by a man who thinks he will turn her into the goddess Diana, Arden Jones
and Bill Ashton are trying to reconcile their conflicting roles: rescuers
to her sister, and blazingly attracted man and woman.
Author T.L. Schaefer has admirably captured the sharp, driving
intelligence of both Bill and Arden. Even when their emotions get the
better of their purposes, they can eventually work out how best to
harmonize feeling and planning. All the main characters of THE SUMMERLAND
have above average intelligence, something the author could not have
faked. Many authors are smart, yes, but usually not as obviously as this.
Of Schaeferís secondary characters, Samantha has a restless, absorptive
mind that has never found satisfaction, High Priestess Josie Galloway has
the serene intelligence to master her surroundings, psychiatrist and
author Adam Porter has an intuitive insight into those around him. Giving
humor to the story are several dogs and cats, all demanding to be fed at
the wrong time. Topping it off is the convincing psychology of the killer,
whose identity is a surprise of the kind that says, "Oh, why didnít I
think of that?". THE SUMMERLAND may be a little wordy, but I found the
characters a highly satisfying group to spend time with.
For those looking for a textbook to Wicca, this is not it. Schaefer would
not have had to study very far in the discipline to write what she did
here, although internal evidence indicates that she has. In THE
SUMMERLAND, the standard religion has become thoroughly mixed with the
villainís madness. The authorís explanations basically give a listing of
the degrees of Wiccan study and some points of ritual, and the rest is
handled by having High Priestess Josie Galloway demonstrate the difference
between the murderís distortions and the real thing. Josie is a dignified,
likable woman who wins respect with her straightforward acceptance of her
position outside of society.
THE SUMMERLAND demonstrates one of the many advantages of reading ebooks.
It is unlikely that a mainstream publisher would have accepted a book with
such an offbeat approach. E-publishing gives readers a chance to acquaint
themselves with a wider range of subjects and viewpoints than would
otherwise be available to them, and gives T.L. Schaefer, a good writer
publishing her first book, a chance to become known. THE SUMMERLAND was an
Eppie Award Finalist
July 2003 Review Originally Published on WOR
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