Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Traveling in Time - Again and Again

Review day here at the blog.  Today we're going to go back in time...and back...and back...and return again in attempt to prevent untold catastrophe.  Let us travel to the year 1553 as we explore A. Ka's novel Isaac the Fortunate:  Part One The Winter.

Book Blurb:
Beltran had humble ambitions—to farm his land, to grow his family, and to live fruitfully with his wife, Amaranta. The winter of 1553 had different plans. After a crippling famine, unbearable storms, and a devastating plague known as the Delirium, the winter had taken everything dear to him.

Then, through the backhanded kindness of a mysterious traveler and her time-obliterating potion, he got everything back.

His salvation is the beginning of his problems, as he discovers just how stubborn history can be. Greater forces are at work. The more Beltran learns about the circumstances, the less he understands—especially when it comes to the traveler and her inept husband, Isaac. In their quest to stop the Delirium, she and Isaac won’t let anything, or anyone, get in the way of their senseless plans.

Beltran fights for his simple life, his love, and his future… again, and again, and again, even when he finds nobody on his side, not even his dear Amaranta.

My Review:
We open with Isaac as he's drowning his sorrows over the loss of his beloved wife.  When his daughter, the area midwife, prepares to head off to bring yet another life into the world, Isaac reminds her of the story behind her nickname - Chamesh, which means "fifth" in Hebrew and is a testament to the five times in which she was conceived.  Thus begins Isaac's reminiscence of how they saved humanity from complete and utter annihilation.

And all with a price too high for the farmer to pay.

Beltran is a simple farmer of Aragon, drowning his sorrow and pain by drinking every bottle of wine in the village.  He's not stealing.  No one else will drink it because everyone in his village is dead - including his young bride, Amaranta, dead from hunger and exposure before the plague arrived to take the rest.  In the midst of his alcoholic ministrations, a strange woman rides up and pours them both a drink from the Golden Bridle.  Before she has a chance to explain, Beltran drinks the bitter liquid and watches in fascination and horror as the world melts away as if erased from existence.  When he awakes, he is once again on the cusp of winter and races home to find his wife alive - as well as the entire village.

Time is changed as Beltran avoids doing that which brought about Amaranta's original death - but death will not be stopped and the Delirium creeps up and claims her this time.  Beltran awaits the coming Annunciation Day when the strange woman said she'd return.  With a drink of the Golden Bridle - and a little more information this time - Beltran returns to the winter to once again save his wife from death's shadow.

I actually found myself enjoying the story.  Each time Beltran returns to the edge of the past he learns and discovers more as he seeks to save humanity from oblivion and the strange riders that periodically show up in his varying realities.  But the one he seeks most desperately to save is his beloved Amaranta, who is taken in new and horrifying ways each and every time.  The question remains - will he be able to save both humanity AND his wife from the pain of death?

I was afraid the continual travels back would become tiresome and rote, but each time something new and unexpected occurred to keep things interesting.  The ending was a bit disappointing but offered enough closure to this end of the story.  I'm looking forward to reading the next installment of Isaac's time-traveling adventures.

Editing was nice and clean.  Good showing instead of telling and point-of-view throughout most of the story was in Beltran's.  Pronoun usage was a bit heavy, but as I got into the story this became more of a minor annoyance.

Considering I'm not well-versed in the time-traveling genre, I was surprised to find myself engaged in the story and rooting for Beltran and Amaranta's survival.  Now I'm curious as to where the story will turn in the next offering.  I give The Winter a solid five stars.

Visit the publisher to purchase

Author Bio:
Aubry Kae Andersen, also known as A. Ka (yes, she knows and embraces the absurdity of that
pseudonym), currently lives in Seattle, WA. She’s an artist, an illustrator, and an aspiring writer. To make ends meet, she also pimps out her web design services.

Her debut serialized novel, Isaac the Fortunate, began with the release ofThe Winter in 2013, and is slated to run through 2015. Set in Renaissance Europe, a vengeful demon threatens to bring about the end of the world with the Delirium, a plague that kills its victims by instilling deadly knowledge of the future. Isaac Keshet, a Jewish doctor, and his once and future wife, Eostre, must use the Golden Bridle, a potion that repeats time, to try to stop the demon and its plague, but they can’t do it alone, and they can’t do it easily. Told in six disordered parts, Isaac the Fortunate explores the nature of reality and the nuances of human psychology, through an epic and textured story far more entertaining and heartfelt than those big words make it sound.

As an illustrator, Aubry collaborates with Zachary Bonelli by providing cover and chapter illustrations for his Voyage series.

When Aubry isn’t writing and drawing, she’s probably thinking about writing and drawing. Or else she’s designing a website, hanging out at coffee shops, or reading Wikipedia. At some point she also sleeps.
Author Web Link:

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