THE SUMMERLAND
T.L. Schaefer


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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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