In “Still Rock Water,” the luminous first novel of the series, Liliha breaks free of her oppressive, bipolar husband to start a new life in England. In this dark sequel, daughter Kaelyn lays a guilt trip on Liliha for “abandoning” her and behaves as rudely and thoughtlessly as her father. Women with drama-queen daughters are sure to ache for Liliha, the patient, nurturing mother who does everything right, to no avail. Kaelyn spirals from a bad attitude to true evil.
The evil begins with a bracelet that sweeps Kaelyn into a vision, the polar opposite of Liliha’s missions of healing and rescue. Kaelyn is like a drug addict, unable to resist the power of the bracelet urging her to act again and again, in spite of her horror and shame afterward. Meanwhile, Liliha has no clue why her powers are thrown off balance. She’s reduced to damage control, consoling the injured and grieving instead of averting their crises. It isn’t enough for Liliha to discover the cause of all this trouble; next, she has to break the bracelet’s hold over her daughter.
The characters we met and loved in STILL ROCK WATER come back to St. Ives and stir up a whirlpool of trouble. Harry tries valiantly to atone for his sins, while Beatrice seeks to reclaim what Liliha has usurped from her. Dear, sweet Oliver is oblivious to his jilted lover’s clandestine return. Sarah leads Kaelyn into a regression, where the secrets of ancient Egypt explain the power of the scarab bracelet. Next, Liliha has to restore balance–before it is too late.
NOTE: Due to my concern for the way Romanis, aka “Gypsies,” are portrayed in fiction, I almost lowered my rating of this novel. The author’s perspective is informed (or misinformed) by the European media and widely held misconceptions. The “ordeal of the gypsy caravan,” as Kaelyn thinks of it, is sure to perpetuate negative stereotypes. Fictional characters are allowed errors in judgment and perception, but the burden is on the author to help the reader distinguish the author’s point of view from the unreliable narrator’s. That said, I remain a fan of Francene Stanley’s sweeping and empowering tale of a woman who triumphs over adversity and horror.
This novel, the second in a series of four*, will leave readers thirsting for the next installment. Knowing Liliha, she is sure to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and soar to new heights.
*Watch for Ebb Tide(Book 3)and Ever Changing Sea(Book 4). Titles may be subject to change, but the series will soon be complete. Francene Stanley has earned a place in the annals of archetypal women’s fiction that empowers as well as entertains.