Monday, April 3, 2017

The Song of Glory and Ghost

The Song of Glory and Ghost
by N.D. Wilson
Recommended Ages: 12+

In the second book of the "Outlaws of Time" series, Sam Miracle - a boy destined to kill a time-walking villain named the Vulture, or El Buitre, before he destroys the whole world - finds himself playing second fiddle to his former sidekick, a girl named Glory. They've been caught in a blighted branch of time, following a disaster that turned the Seattle area into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, since their only ticket out - the time-traveling priest Father Tiempo, or the boy Peter who is meant to grow up to be him - is being targeted for John Connor-style termination by being erased from history, practically at the moment of his birth. Armed, at first, with only an hourglass that can create bubbles of faster or slower time, Glory must learn how to move forward and backward in time so Sam can end this, before the Vulture ends him.

Meantime, Glory, Sam, his sister Millie, and their group of "Lost Boys" have gotten crosswise with a gang whose leader, nicknamed Leviathan, and his daughter Samra have been brought up on a series of comic books depicting Sam as a traitor and a villain who must be stopped at all costs. It isn't hard to believe, when you see the kid with snakes for arms draw and shoot pistols with both hands, with deadly speed and accuracy, aided by Glory, whose growing ability to manipulate time actually enables them to ride a motorcycle, sidecar and all, across the surface of Puget Sound. But even bigger obstacles lie before them than Levi's gang, thanks to the Vulture's pact with a pair of ancient Mesoamerican demons and an army of skin-walkers - basically, undead people who have gained the ability to transform into werebeasts by murdering their own families.

So, this is a really out-there, strange, original, action-packed piece of young-adult science fiction/fantasy/adventure, populated by cosmic beings and paranormal mosnters, exploring previously uncharted hazards of time travel, and occasionally drop into speeches that hint at a triune deity moving mysteriously in the background. I think I have compared N.D. Wilson's youth fiction with that of C.S. Lewis in a previous review. The comparison this book brought to mind was to Madeleine L'Engle in such books as A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door. Maybe this is a consequence of the point-of-view character more often being Glory in this book, and the hero-girl type being more open to listening to characters like the Ghost (whom I'm afraid to try describing) rhapsodize about the spiritual side of things. With Sam at the center, the focus was more on the immediate dilemma of what to do and, at times, trying to pull together his confused memories of what he had already done. Perhaps unfortunately, Glory's step forward means the narrative cake is more thickly frosted with metaphysical talkiness. But without taking away any of the hard-hitting action and danger that livened up the first book in the series, it gives more thoughtful readers, especially Christian families, material to consider and discuss.

My review of this sequel to The Legend of Sam Miracle is based on a pre-publication proof copy. The book is scheduled to be released April 18, 2017. Wilson is also the author of several children's picture books, including some fictions based on Bible stories; the "100 Cupboards" trilogy and its upcoming prequel The Door Before (coming out June 27, 2017); the "Ashtown Burials" trilogy; Leepike Ridge; and Boys of Blur.

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