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Jerome and the Seraph
Robina Williams
Twilight Times Books, 176 pages

Jerome and the Seraph
Robina Williams
Robina Williams lives in north-west England, in Liverpool. She has an honours degree in Modern Languages from Oxford University, and a Master of Philosophy research degree in English Literature from Liverpool University. Her research thesis was on the relationship between Wilkie Collins and nineteenth-century art. She has taught French, Latin and English in schools and colleges. She has been a freelance features writer, with regular weekly and monthly columns. Jerome and the Seraph is her first book.

Robina Williams Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steve Lazarowitz

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There are books that recount great upheavals in society. Others deal with crime, passion, or life and death. Indeed so much fantasy seems to revolve around fighting evil and saving the world, I was beginning to forget there is more to the genre. My personal thanks to Robina Williams for reminding me what I should have known all along.

Brother Jerome lives at a Friary in the English countryside. I don't believe I've read another book where the protagonist dies in the first paragraph. This doesn't ruin the book since half of it takes place in the afterlife, which is nothing like Brother Jerome has been led to believe. This has him questioning his faith and in fact his entire earthly life.

The book is balanced between the dead friars who inhabit the afterlife and those who remain alive. Brother Jerome, indeed all the characters in the book, are portrayed as real people rather than the stereotypes you might have come to expect. They are well-meaning, but they have human frailties. They aren't removed from humanity, but are a part of it, reflecting society and some of its problems.

Jerome and the Seraph has an ensemble cast, including a friary cat named Quant, who is far more than a cat though only the dearly departed are aware of it. Brothers Peter, Valentine and Fidelis are also interesting, each with their own problems. Each character leads a separate life, yet their days are interwoven into a tapestry you can never quite see in its entirety.

What makes this review so hard to write is that it would be very difficult for me to make the book sound exciting by recounting what happens, because this book isn't about what happens. It's about Brother Jerome coming to terms with the afterlife, but more than that it's about human beings living their lives, interacting with each other, dealing with each other's faults and somehow still managing to coexist. It's about misunderstanding and about faith, though it's not a book that forwards any specific religious ideology.

I found myself getting attached to the characters, and when the book ended felt cheated, for it didn't end with that bang I'd come to expect. As with the rest of the work, the ending was understated. I've grown so used to grand finales, I'd forgotten there was any other way to end a book. Fortunately a sequel is coming that will hopefully pick up where Jerome and the Seraph left off.

Jerome and the Seraph is literate, subtle, thought-provoking and entertaining. If you're like me and enjoy the interactions of many characters woven together into a tapestry of humanity, this is one to try.

Copyright © 2004 Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz is a speculative fiction writer, an editor, a father, a husband, an animal lover and a heck of a nice guy (not necessarily in that order). Steve lives in Moonah, Tasmania with his family and four giant spiny leaf insects. You can check out his work at http://www.dream-sequence.net.


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