Storm at the Edge of Time: Interesting, but hardly exceptional story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsStorm at the Edge of Time Pamela F Service book reviewStorm at the Edge of Time by Pamela F. Service

Storm at the Edge of Time is a good idea, and nicely presented, but on reading it one realises it could have been a lot better with a little more length and time, as well as depth into the characters and circumstances.

Jamie is a young American girl holidaying in Scotland, Arni is a young Viking living on the coast, and Tyaak is a half-human, half-alien boy who is going through with his rite-of-passage stay on Earth’s island of Britain. All of them are separated by thousands of years, yet all of them are descendants of each other. They are each called toward the great stone circle in their separate times and greeted by the wizard Urkar who presents them with a task only they can pre form: to prevent the chaotic storm of destruction from destroying the world, they must find and return to him three magical staffs that can stabilise the worlds. These staffs represent the three elements of life: water, with a fish head on its knob, earth, with a horse head, and air, with a bird head (what about fire?) With this basic quest outlined, what follows is a fairly predictable storyline — the three children visit each time (past, present and future), find the staff, get into some trouble, and return to the stone circle. The final coming together of the three staffs is hardly a climax, as Urkar’s destruction of the storm is told in one single paragraph, and the story is wrapped up hurriedly with the children returning to their own times without even so much as a goodbye.

The opposite is true of the beginning of the story, as I felt Jamie’s longing to see a ghost and thus photographing parts of the old homestead was rather needless in the context of the story, and slowed it down considerably. It is only when the three actually get into the time traveling that things get interesting: Pamela F. Service creates an historically correct (or so I assume) Viking village, a typical Scottish present-day countryside, and an interesting account of future times, where many species collectively live on a somewhat wasted earth. In each of these times the children act realistically toward circumstances, and each other, and their growing awareness of magic, whether its the magic-seeking Arni, skeptical and arrogant Tyaak or Jamie, who lies somewhere between the two.

However, I have one last complaint, and that’s the role of the bad guys in the story — in each world the kids are meet by antagonists that seem to be aware of what the staffs mean and why they’re important, but who these people are, who they’re working for and what their intentions were, are kept a mystery. This frustrating lack of answers make them seem two-dimensional and weak, without much potential of being a threat at all.

Storm at the Edge of Time is a rather slack story based on a good idea, which unfortunately did not quite deliver. Though many components are well imagined and written, and the blend of fantasy/sci-fi and time-slip adventuring was intriguing, the basic plot was too formulaic, the bad guys to simplistic, and the ending too short changed to really make an effort to track this book down. Some parts reminded me a bit of The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, so if you enjoy her work, you might want to give this a try, as well as other books by Pamela F. Service, who definitely has some better works out there.

Storm at the Edge of Time — (1994) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A magical stone circle draws three unusual heroes from different times: as the trio cross-covers time zones and experiences each other’s worlds, they find deeper mysteries to probe and problems to solve, which could affect the entire time line of the planet.

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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