Review of Venessa Kimball’s "Piercing the Fold"

 

Jesca Gershon-Sera’s dreams have been hauntingly vivid for most of her life; so vivid that she is temporarily paralyzed upon awakening.  Now, in early adulthood, strange things are happening during her waking hours too.  A chance encounter, a whispered conversation she shouldn’t have been able to hear, and, most worrying, a dark presence that seems to follow her.  The same one, she believes, that chases her in her dreams.

A teacher at the university, who seems to know more about her than a stranger should, soon befriends and then guides Jesca into a reality that she knows shouldn’t exist, but is there nonetheless.  She has to learn to reach beyond her own hopes and dreams to become the person she has to be to help save the human race from interstellar disaster.

Ms. Kimball has done something few writers try:  she has combined several genres into one smoothly-moving tale.  In “Piercing the Fold”, we have science fiction, paranormal espionage, a coming-of-age story, and a touch of romance.  Not to mention the theology that imbues the entire book.  But it isn’t an in-your-face kind of spirituality.  There are just enough hints throughout to remind the reader of the basis for the characters’ missions.

The character names themselves are heavy with symbolism.  Many of them have Biblical names, which can be connected, some more than others, to a parallel in the Bible.  The first part of Jesca’s last name, Gershon, was the son of another Biblical character, Ezra.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decipher its significance.  Even Jesca’s name is important in its symbolism—it is a shortened version of Jessica, and the reader will learn after a short venture into the book why that is important.

I don’t belong to a readers’ group, but I can definitely see this book as a good choice for group reading and discussion.

What really stands out is the way Ms. Kimball has taken prose and stood it on its ear.  Instead of the usual first-person or third-person point of view throughout the book, the story is written in a very well-crafted combination of both.  There is a scene where Jesca and another important character are fighting out of a nest of baddies.   Throughout these passages, the point of view changes from first to third and back with great speed, but without causing what I call “mental whiplash”.  It’s almost like watching them on a movie or TV screen.  Ms. Kimball has also written almost the entire book in the present tense, which is not a feat which is easily pulled off.  And she did it magnificently.

Kudos, Venessa Kimball!  I can hardly wait to start reading the next book in the series!

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