Ann Tatlock, author of Once Beyond A Time, writes in a style I admire—thought-provoking, challenging, and always a “gotcha” ending.
I’ve read all her books, had the privilege of being taught by her on several occasions, and wait like a child at Christmas for the next Tatlock book.
With Once Beyond A Time, Ann took a leap into a new area—time travel. A seasoned writer trying new things. That’s something to emulate.
The setting is Black Mountain , NC in the year 1968. The Crane family, recently moved from Pennsylvania, left under extreme circumstance. Sheldon was forced from the ministry due to an affair and ends up as a used car salesman. In his brother-in-law’s business. Not a happy place.
Sheldon’s wife won’t forgive him, and his daughter nurses resentment over the inconvenient move. Their young son Digger provides the only light for the family. He seems to settle right in to Black Mountain and the house on a hill.
But then mysterious things occur.
Former residents of the house show up to individually engage the current occupants.To complicate matters, something happens to Digger. When desperation of a different kind descends on the family, everything changes.
Interested yet? I can’t give the ending, so you need to read it. But here are a few more thoughts.
Five characters tell the tale in first person, an interesting twist to Ann’s usual presentation, but flawlessly done.
Ann’s writing is known for characters who speak for themselves, their voices clearly defining age, gender, hopes, turmoil. Once Beyond a Time is another fine example of premier characterization. Like a steering captain, she carries the voice of four characters through story rapids that never overcome. Sheldon exchanging one pulpit for another. Meg exchanging one emotion for another. Linda exchanging selfish eyes for loving ones. And then there is Digger . . .
In every book, Tatlock includes an artful twist to take your breath away. But this time they kept coming and coming.
I read, went to sleep, and picked it up again at 3 AM. And it was brilliant, as our Scottish friends say.
Her writing is never preachy, but there is a strong perspective on life as only an all-knowing God can see.
Her writing changes lives. I am one.