by Lillian Stewart Carl
Cover Artist: Timothy Lantz
Review by Mel Jacob
Juno Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780809572021
Date: 01 May 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Lauren Reay, the heroine of Lillian Carl's latest novel Blackness Tower, possesses Second Sight. Dreams of a strange tower have haunted her for years. Then her grandfather receives a calendar with a picture of that same tower. After her fiancé ends their engagement and her grandfather dies, she takes a vacation to Thurso, Scotland, the site of the tower. Visions intrude during waking hours and create more questions than they answer. Fearing others will consider her crazy, she says nothing about these.
She comes to Thurso to learn the identity of her great-great grandfather's father. Lauren soon finds history influences the present. She resembles earlier forbearers, notably Catherine Sinclair from the late 16th century and Susanna Mackay from the 19th . Susanna never identified the father of her son John. Both women died young. Legend has it that Catherine had an affair with a selkie, a seal who takes the form of a man on land.
Three men help or hinder Lauren's quest. Ewan Calder, an archeologist, leads an excavation of the old cemetery near Blackness Tower. He discovers parts of a pocket watch in the shape of a skull similar to one Lauren inherited. A television crew headed by Magnus Anderson wants to film the tower and monitor it for ghosts. The reclusive owner of the tower, David Sutherland, wants nothing to do with either. A former British soldier, he accidentally killed a woman while on duty in Northern Ireland. His superiors demanded he resign so he retreated to Thurso.
Everyone Lauren meets harbors secrets. Soon, she concludes she can trust no one. Attracted to David and to Magnus Anderson, the host of "The Paranormal Files," both confuse her. Ewan dismisses all talk of ghosts, fairies, and visions, but Lauren worries about his motives.
With elements similar to some of Mary Stewart's novels, Carl uses Celtic legends and mythology as the background for her gothic tale. Abrupt switches between reality and Lauren's visions may confuse some readers. Can she learn the identity of her ancestors, survive, and end the family curse? Carl includes a few twists to hold readers until the end.