Sword Across TimeCatherine Anne Collins
Sword Across Time boasts an ambitious story line, particularly for a first novel. Tamara is an investigative reporter for a New York magazine vacationing at her mother's country house when she happens across an ancient journal in the attic. Her mother, a practicing witch—to the ongoing disapproval of thoroughly modern Tamara—is mortified that her daughter has unearthed the text, and explains that their family is descended from Nimue, aka, The Lady of the Lake, the author of the journal. There is an ancient curse stemming from the feud between one-time lovers Merlin and Nimue, which resurfaces periodically among the descendents of each in accordance with the positions of the stars.
And you thought you had relationship problems!
Pragmatic Tamara, scarred since childhood by her mother's role as the town oddball, buys none of this, but is assigned to cover a Wicca festival at Glastonbury Tor in England. There she meets and finds herself terribly attracted to an investigative reporter named Gavin who happens to have come across a journal by Merlin, from whom he is descended. The nature of the feud and the curse are an open mystery for the reader, both the result of a one-time student of Merlin's, Morganna, who used deception in her desire for Excalibur. Having formed an allegiance with a demonic entity, Morganna survives to this day as a rather scary lass known as "The Dark Lady." If she acquires the magical blade, it will give her supreme power. The festival is looming, and, as Tamara and Gavin are aggravated by one another, yet undeniably attracted to each other, they gradually realize that they are in serious danger if they don't beat Morganna to the punch and prevent her from acquiring the famous sword.
Treble Heart Books is a print-on-demand publisher, an idea which has exciting potential as a way in for fledgling writers with more respectability than straight-out vanity publishing. As a case in point, I found this novel to be an enjoyable read overall, but there are some shortcomings. The fact that it is primarily dialog-driven and has a rather slow pace was refreshing, but more than halfway through the story it becomes daunting and all the gum-flapping smacks of filler. One minor repeated annoyance that sells her writing short is that Catherine Anne Collins has some trouble with past tense. One can only assume that the folks at Treble Heart Books have the same problem.
I was in a relationship with a witch even as I was reading this novel, and there seems to be a lot of accuracy in the spells and philosophy depicted here. There are some good moments in Sword, and the last quarter of the book pulls up the slack well. If you are among the many people these days who are interested in witchcraft, or if you crave a leisurely hammock-paced escape into fantasy, romance and intrigue, despite some glitches, the strengths of Sword Across Time make it a novel worth your consideration.