Sylvia Kelso

Blackston Gold, Book 2

ISBN: 978-1-4328-2547-8

Five Star (Gale, Cengage Learning)

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Time Seam continues and completes the story begun in The Solitaire Ghost. It will provide a satisfying conclusion for readers of the earlier novel, and although it may not make quite so much sense to new readers, should also be accessible to those who haven’t read part one.

Dorian Wild is a successful solicitor, happy in her relationship and friendships, and with a nice stable future in front of her. Until in book one (The Solitaire Ghost) she gets in the elevator to go up to her office, and watches as a ghost walks out of the floor and places a miner’s panning dish on her head. Her future shatters. Soon the ghost is physically impinging on her time, and it becomes urgent to work out who he is and why Dorian has begun to see him. Friends believe her – in fact they’ve begun to see him too – but not all of them are able to help her. Her lover, for example, is distracted by the illegal antics of the megacorp that is taking over the gold mine he works at. It becomes clear that the two problems – the ghost and the megacorp – are intertwined, and Dorian faces heartbreak, mystery, and danger. It seems that Dorian must solve both problems or neither; and she won’t get any peace until she does find a solution.

The Time Seam is the volume which largely reveals both what the megacorp is planning, and why Jimmy Keenighan (the ghost) is connected to Dorian’s current troubles. It is also the volume which resolves and concludes both plots. That’s why this volume would be fairly accessible to anyone who hasn’t read the first book. A lot of the meat of the story is in The Time Seam. The Solitaire Ghost wasn’t exactly lacking plot, but it did put some emphasis on setting up the situation and engaging the reader emotionally with the characters.

The Time Seam builds on this, further engaging the reader with the characters – in particular Jimmy Keenighan, whose background and character is fleshed out far more in this volume than in the earlier. His connection with Dorian is also his way to learn about our time, and although there are no great revelations here – we’re all familiar with the character confronted by modern technology for the first time – Kelso has still done a good job of showing us our world through his eyes.

Dorian and her friends have already been introduced as strong characters, and Kelso allows us to find out more about them and their bonds in this volume. They’re convincing – I had no trouble believing in each individual and their relationships. These characterisations help to carry a plot which is intriguing and convincing, but not perhaps all that original. Not that it matters much while you’re reading. Most readers will get thoroughly involved with the story, and it’s quite believable.

In fact, I experienced a little dissatisfaction with this novel due to the very realistic ending. The bad guys did get their comeuppance to a large degree, but they also got some of what they wanted. The compromises that Dorian ultimately accepts are a very realistic reflection of what would probably happen in the real world, and of the fact that these things are rarely as clear cut as your average Hollywood movie would have us believe. However, that very realism made me twitch – the world shouldn’t work that way. I wanted better for Dorian and her friends.

Really, I’d strongly recommend reading the two books together. They make a well designed whole, and both are a little weaker alone. Together they tell a strong story with some significant emotional moments. I enjoyed both novels. They’re likely to be enjoyed not only by fantasy fans, but also by readers who are looking for an adult, character driven novel and who don’t mind some fantastical elements.