I foresaw trouble as soon as I flipped through the pages of this newly arrived book I had received to review. It was Travane by M.D. Schlatter (Dot’s House, 2011).
Beyond the fact that it was a work of fiction, which I seldom read (but have been trying to open myself to more often), it had a glossary–in the front of the book. Any work of fiction that requires a glossary means trouble for me.
But the words in this glossary read like a foreign language dictionary. It contained exotic-sounding names of characters and places. Names like Oneve and Vogah and BerRa and Menove. It defined odd titles such as CherRene and Hersere and Resorvan and RioArd and Vescavo.
To further confirm that I had entered upon a quest into new genre territory, as I read I encountered characters who periodically exhibited auras of various hues and colors, each of which conveyed different meanings. I was disconcerted to find myself in the middle of Fantasyland.
As strange as all of this was to my reading palate, I pressed on. And I discovered a compelling story filled with plot twists and turns that kept me reading to discover what would happen to CherRene Rayna. The plot included enough thinly veiled biblical allusions to show that the story of conflict between good and evil that it had a lesson to be learned. The fantasy portions repeatedly forced me to suspend my disbelief and my ever-present demand for “just the facts, Ma’am” often enough that I could never forget that I was reading a work of fiction. (This is still hard for me, a die-hard nonfiction reader.)
This book is a stark contrast to M.D/ Schlatter’s previous work, Autumn Frost, which is set in modern times and without the changing colors of various auras that fills the current work. I could never quite figure out the time frame for when Travane was taking place other than that it was a time when horses still provided the main means of transportation.
If you are “into” fantasy fiction, this book might work for you. If you, like I, prefer more conventional fiction, you might want to stick with Schlatter’s earlier work. Or perhaps wait for her upcoming title, Winter Tumult, which, like the first in that series, is also set in more conventional modern times.