It is not unusual in modern-day Fantasy to have characters who are reincarnations of deities from ancient myths, good research allowing a plethora of juicy details to choose from to suit the author’s purposes. In “Sagamore Road” the Isis-Osiris legend provides the basis for the plot. Archaeology being the inexact science it is, this frees the author to reinterpret the whole of early Egyptian studies to posit a previous, high-technology civilization, the members of which became the gods of the First Dynasty, teaching them all the mathematics and astronomy the real ancient Egyptians demonstrated in their architecture and hieroglyphs. And incidentally providing a civilization through which the godly couple and their key friends can rotate through the reincarnations (Chopin features prominently) until the present day, when the stars are aligned correctly for a re-enactment of the key cut-and-paste (ick!) action.
The style of the writing is a key facet of this book, a blending of fantasy and psychiatric reality, of science and myth that fits together rather well. Given the epic timeframe, one might expect the timeline to be fragmented, a risky technique unless the author is careful to keep the reader clued in as to when things are happening. Which this author does with only a few slips.
For example, one of the key events in the book happens off-camera, so to speak, and we only find out about it in dribs and drabs of conversation as the tale progresses. This is usually a dangerous trick, but in this case it seems highly appropriate to the piecemeal revelation of the lives of the characters. The event happens early in the book, but we don’t find out the real truth until later on, when its impact has fuller effect.
One downfall in this practice is the lack of transition between key scenes. One moment the main character’s father is missing, who knows where. The next moment he shows up somewhere. The next moment, with no hint of a change of attitude, he’s home again. I know he’s that sort of person, but readers like to think they have some chance of guessing what might happen next.
This is a long book, over 400 pages, and while it is a complex story, a little too much repetition creeps in, especially in the agony of the relationships. There is a spot about 80% of the way through – always a danger spot to let the tension down – when we’ve had just a bit too much of Robin going off to the observatory and the women of the family sitting in the main house agonizing over him. It is at this point that we wonder whether the author lost track of the time frame as well, with Tess at home taking a leisurely time talking with Suze, then the next chapter getting off the plane coming home from Europe.
The ending has an unsatisfying untied thread, which I assume the next book in the series will conclude beautifully. With a touch of gory sex and violence, but only a bit. And yes, I did say gory sex.
A slightly-too-long masterpiece in need of a touch of the Osiris treatment, with a good editor to play Isis. Highly recommended nonetheless.(5 / 5)