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The Revenant
Phoebe Reeves
Xlibris, 265 pages

The Revenant
Phoebe Reeves
Phoebe Reeves' novella-ization of the teleplay, "The Quality of Mercy," for Outer Limits 3 (Prima), was nominated for the 1997 HWA Best Long Fiction award. Other work has appeared in Midnight Zoo. She has written and delivered weekly film reviews on Movie Magazine, a nationally syndicated radio show broadcast out of San Francisco. A textbook, What's The Big Idea? Writing Through Reading and Thinking and a forthcoming one, Turning The Century: A Bits and Bytes Reader for Developing Writers, are published by Prentice Hall. She is the director of YouthBuild San Antonio at the George Gervin Youth Centre in San Antonio, Texas. Previously, she taught writing at the University of San Francisco and City College of San Francisco. Prior to that, she taught creative and non-fiction writing over the past 11 years at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and at Leeward and Kauai Community Colleges in Hawaii. She received her MA in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her BA in English from Tufts University.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Sometimes, you see a movie, or hear a song, or read a book, and you know instantly that it is destined for awards. Anything Merchant-Ivory, everything Aretha Franklin, and... The Revenant. No, you haven't heard of the third one, yet, but if they gave book awards the same coverage they do the Oscars, I would advise Ms. Reeves to drop by Harry Winston now to avoid the rush.

Nenut Kite deserved a normal, reasonably happy childhood, just like every other little girl. She didn't get it. Her life in Northern Africa came to a grinding, shattering stop one day with the murder of her beloved mother. That and the fact that her father and everyone else blamed her for the murder. End of carefree youth and time to rot in juvenile jail for a decade.

This experience will be the centre-point of the rest of her life. She will search for the answers everywhere, at the expense of her career, her relationships, her health, and her happiness. This crusade will take her all around the globe and into and out of the lives of a myriad of people. If each person and place she encounters will give up even a small piece of the mystery, she will be that much closer to discovering the truth about her mother's grisly death.

Doesn't sound like the plan of a sane, stable person? Nenut is far from that, but her very weaknesses may allow her to see more than a normal person might. And the things she sees may come from the past, the present, the never-was, and, just possibly, the future. There is no other way to find the answers she seeks.

Now, she has only to stay alive long enough to put it all together.

Reeves has skillfully blended reality and fantasy to create a spellbinding journey through this woman's life and her pain. Seen through Nenut's eyes, it is difficult, if not impossible, to sort the pieces into neat little piles -- truth here, phantasm there, confusion everywhere. Her life is a disaster and you cannot stop watching the news coverage in all its living colour of assault on the nerves. And you are powerless to help.

It's intense stuff. And it requires the reader's full attention. If you have time to sit down and read it in one shot, you will be far more attuned to the subtle meanings behind every seemingly innocuous word. If you have to wedge your reading time in around your daily life -- like most of us do -- stay sharp; you will still have all the answers at the end. All the answers Reeves decided to share with us.

Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, and beautifully done -- those are reasons enough to pick up a copy as soon as possible. You can be the only one at the reading circle to recognize The Revenant when it shows up on everyone's short list. Or be the one to be appalled if it doesn't.

All that and a cast of characters unlike the whitebread fare most fantasy doles out. What a sweet, sweet surprise.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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