Where The Time Goes
by Jeffrey E. Barlough
Cover Artist: A Garden in Shoreham c.1830 (w/c) by Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK / De Agostini Picture Library /
Review by Mel Jacob
Gresham & Doyle Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780978763459
Date: 31 October 2016 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Where the Time Goes, an alternative history of a section of Cornwall, by Jeffrey E. Barlough is the ninth in his Western Lights series. Horror elements, aliens, space travel, and myths intertwine as the narrative moves from the present to the past and back causing shifts in who survives and who dies.
The novel begins with an unnamed narrator and a young friend visiting the mysterious Eldritch's Cupboard. It is a cavern near the village with tales of a monster who lives there and those who visit may not return. That happened to the narrator's friend.
The action begins slowly with the narrator, a lawyer (solicitor), visiting an unconscious man who may not recover consciousness and the man's female companion who administers a daily tonic to the invalid. The lawyer senses an oddness about the woman that sets her apart from others. There are also rumors of missing cattle.
Dreams disturb the lawyer as in a dream where he becomes the unconscious man and follows his investigation of Eldritch's Cupboard. The narrative continues to shift as more is learned about the nature of the Cupboard and its effects on events past and present. The threat of the monster hovers over all as two missing women are pursued.
Barlough is adept as mixing myths, legends, and folklore along with speculative fiction memes to create a continuing history of his alternate world. His stories are not simple and not always easy to follow. That is certainly true as the narrator tries to change the past in an effort to save lives in the present and the past. The rules of logic do not apply. The story meanders at a slow pace and details gradually emerge. The nature of the Cupboard monster seems almost gratuitous. The lawyer's training serves him well in unraveling the mysteries of the Cupboard and of time.
This book has one of the most attractive covers I've seen. However, it doesn't really signal what the novel is about. Readers who like the Western Lights series will probably enjoy Where the Time Goes. Others may get lost in the switching of narrators and the unraveling of time.