Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Publisher: Parvus Press
Fantasy and sci-fi are linked for many reasons, but one good one is that they both contain narrative called world-building. I’ve encountered at least one literary agent who didn’t understand the importance of that for sci-fi; it’s equally important for fantasy. The former must create believable and possible situations and worlds; the latter must create impossible situations and worlds that are equally believable in our imagination. And in the possible and impossible there must be an internal logic. The reader must feel that each story’s world is the way it has to be within its own consistent rules. There can be magic in the fantasy world, but there can’t be contradictions.
In Court of Twilight, the author places the reader in both worlds, the sci-fi world of an ancient ET invasion to Eire, and the fantasy world that contains the magic the invaders brought with them. Presumably she knows Clarke’s famous witticism: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And it all happens in Dublin, one of my favorite cities.
This book is also interesting because it’s a fantasy-mystery. The main character Ivy’s flatmate Demi has gone missing, there’s a strange man hiding in the flower boxes in front of the flat, and another stranger breaks into the flat and asks for Demi. When the Gardai (Irish police) won’t help, Ivy sets out to find her strange friend.
In the process, she discovers a parallel Dublin, and the longer she moves around in it, the more she risks losing her old and familiar Dublin. The new Dublin has some strange inhabitants, including the Enemy who wants to murder her flatmate. They hide behind a “veil” (presumably some kind of force field with AI capabilities, because it “learns” whom it must hide), but Ivy sees through it because of her association with Demi.
The book evolves like a traditional mystery as Ivy steps in and out of the fantasy world. These cross-genre stories are more common now, and I find them interesting and often intriguing and entertaining. The story remains in the third person point-of-view of Ivy, so the reader discovers clues as she does. I originally thought the plot couldn’t possibly sustain a full-length novel, but it does, and it’s a well-spun yarn. Characterization and dialogue are mostly spot-on and interesting. I would have liked a bit more of Dublin’s flavor in the setting and a less horticulture (it didn’t seem to have any justification beyond showing that Demi’s a bit weird), but overall this novel meets Kurt Vonnegut’s criterion: fiction has to entertain.
There are a few funny turns-of-phrase throughout. Here are two examples: “…hot and cold running roaches”; and “…the sort of look one might give an insect crawling up the wrong side of one’s window.” And there are more. Whether metaphor or simile, these add to the entertainment value.
There are a few annoying things too. The prose is often a bit repetitive, especially in the internal dialogue, as if the author thinks the reader might have forgotten previous details so she’s listing the important ones yet again. She repeats Ivy’s name more often than necessary too when “she” would suffice. And there are remaining editing errors, mostly dropped words and inconsistent verb tenses.
I was drawn to this book initially because of the cross-genre aspect, but it’s also a great story. I can imagine the author starting with a what-if and then following through in a marvelous fashion, creating the entertaining plot. I await more fiction from her. There’s no cliffhanger, but there’s definitely room for a sequel. She has an adventurous and interesting past that will allow her to generate many other what-ifs…and entertaining novels.