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The Water Rising
by Sherrie S. Tepper
Harper, $14.99, 498pp
Release Date: August 2, 2011

I’ve been reading Tepper novels ever since I was entranced by the covers – and the contents – of her The True Game books, nine in all, and sadly, out of print. Then there was the Marianne trilogy, and The Awakeners, and….

Tepper is distinctively Jungian in her approaches; archetypes breathe and bleed and burn across the pages. Her stories invariably remind me of paintings by Brueghel or Hieronymus Bosch: even the loveliest depictions include things that are dark, dangerous, and transformative.

With The Waters Rising, she returns to the setting of A Plague of Angels, but this story is quite self-sufficient. And although ostensibly set in a distant time/world, it is poignantly relevant in our time of rising waters and narrowing margins.

Dark magics and the consequences of stupidity are combining to threaten overwhelmingly the remnants of humanity and their works. But Abasio, a traveller who is more bard than merchant, along with his conversant horse, Blue, and the young Xulai, who is telepathically connected to the comatose Woman Upstairs, resonate to the frequencies that Lamarque, Wallace, Darwin, George Washington Carver, George MacDonald, and C. S. Lewis also heard and shared. Will their several and combined courage be enough to find a way of living that is not predicated on the Big Lie of dominion?

Ugly and twisty in places, radiant in others, shot through with surprising humor and poetry, this story of paradigm change is as haunting as anything Tepper has produced. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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