cover image To Visit the Queen

To Visit the Queen

Diane Duane. Aspect, $18.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-446-67318-1

Duane returns to the engaging world of The Book of Night with Moon, where wizardly cats guard the magical Gates between worlds and protect Earth from those who would upset the delicate balance of space and time. Based in Manhattan's Grand Central Station, the cultured feline Rhiow and her colleagues, the street-wise Urruah and precocious young Arhu, are ordered to London to investigate a malfunctioning Gate. It turns out someone has sabotaged the portal, turning it into a dangerous ""timeslide"" that snatches folks from their own time and pushes them randomly into the future or the past. But this is merely the symptom of a bigger problem: the evil Lone One is overwriting history by creating a world set on an alternate timeline, one in which nuclear weapons introduced long before their true era are being used systematically to destroy civilization. The crux of events--the break where the alternate timeline begins--is the assassination of Queen Victoria. In order to save the universe, Rhiow and her compatriots must save the monarch and recreate a long-lost spell to stop the expanding disturbance in the timelines; a youthful Arthur Conan Doyle lends a hand. Duane presents her usual felicitous mix of magical high adventure and humor, avoiding much of the preciousness that can infect anthropomorphic fantasy. Even those who don't fancy felines should enjoy this purr of a tale. (Apr.)