Night Visitor by Melanie Jackson
(Love Spell, $5.50, PG) ISBN 0-505-52423-6
***
Tafaline Lytton is different from other women in the 1880’s. She is a photographer, a world traveler, familiar with archeology, and owner of a Winchester. She also comes from the MacLeod family, known for their affinity with the stillfolk or faeries. While in Scotland, her father calls upon her to photograph the skeleton of the legendary piper, Malcolm MacIntyre - also half MacLeod. When Taffy arrives at the burial site, she touches the skeleton and bleeds on the bones. One of the Scottish villagers tells her if that happens the person would die or go mad from their dreams. Only a MacLeod would be spared - to go live with the fairies.

Malcolm MacIntyre is about to go to battle in the 1660s. He can see somewhat into the future and knows he has little time left. But he isn’t too unhappy. He also sees a ghostly woman in his dreams and knows she is everything he wants. Somehow he will meet her soon.

Taffy’s dreams of the mysterious piper become more and more real. Soon she can almost touch him. Then she feels his strange almost touch on her. Eventually she bursts into his time with her Winchester to kill of the Campbells who are about to overwhelm and kill Malcolm.

I liked the beginning of this book. In fact I liked this story more than I expected after being put off by the book cover showing a woman draped on . . . on a tree branch? thin air? . . . looking like some kind of erotic sacrifice. There are some editing problems, too. In the second chapter, when I was still orienting myself, the book describes Malcolm in 1964 Scotland. I spent a few pages going - OK, it’s time travel, but I don’t understand. (It was 1664.) However, the story is gripping, the atmosphere dreamlike. Malcolm, the otherworldly piper, is a mesmerizing hero.

As the story went on, I found more problems. Neither of the main characters seemed totally believable, or at least neither of them were reality-based. This may be a quibble in a fantasy time travel book, and perhaps both were meant to be somewhat uncomfortable in their own “real” worlds, but I would’ve been happier in the end if I knew they would be able to fit in some world. Both of them seemed unshaken by their time changes - but I’m not sure if that meant they adapted very well or were equally out of place no matter where they were. (And why not have Taffy living closer to the modern day? I thought one of the points of time travel was to show the shock of today versus some other time. Both Taffy’s and Malcolm’s settings were equally foreign to me.) I also wasn’t crazy about seeing the stillfolk up close and personal so much. That was a foreign world I wasn’t interested in.

However, the author’s first three chapters were very strong and then the story and characters became less wonderful. Several of the characters introduced at the start don’t return until the end and I was interested in them. But Night Visitor has a great beginning and a decent rest of the story.

--Irene Williams


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