by Tim Powers
Review by Gayle Surrette
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062262455
Date: 19 January 2016 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Whenever I finish reading a novel by Tim Powers, I feel like the world has tilted out from under me. In the pages between the bookcovers he manages to make you believe that the things you've been reading are real and you just never noticed before that this is how the world really works. Powers so smoothly places his stories in the interstitial spaces in history, and in the lives of actual people, that it feels real while you're reading. Medusa's Web is another example of history, biography, and story coming together as this story has scenes in various time periods, dealing with some famous people from the early days of Hollywood.
Claimayne Madden's mother, Amity, climbed up on the roof of their home and blew herself up with a grenade. Her will requires that Scott Madden and his sister Madeline live in the house with Claimayne and his cousin, Ariel Madden, for a week in order to get their inheritance. None of these people are happy about sharing a house together for a week.
Sounds like it would be a fairly straightforward deceased person trying to control the family via the will and inheritance, but there's more. Claimayne is addicted to using spiders. Ariel has been trying not to use spiders, and hasn't for the last four years. Scott and Madeline saw one when they were young, and were so frightened that they haven't wanted to repeat the experience; except that it is so enticing. These aren't spiders that you find in your house, they are eight-limbed drawings that pull the viewer into a vision of the future or the past where you swap consciousness with someone else.
There's a missing master spider, the Medusa, and there are two groups of people who want it. These groups don't care what they have to do or who they have to harm to get what they want. Meanwhile, the house they have to live in for a week is experiencing time quakes, and both groups are trying to capture them. They're also trying to find out what happened to their parents, and why they disappeared so many years ago.
Get the book, buckle your seat belts, and settle in, because this story is one wild and thrilling adventure that will leave you wondering if that was the end, or will there be more. The ends all get tied up neatly, but it still feels like there's more just out of sight.