Edna Ventre-Auerfeld, Author . Paraview Pocket $6.99 (376p) ISBN 978-0-7434-8206-6

A fascinating premise receives a muddled, lackluster treatment in this metaphysical debut novel, which examines the consequences of one ordinary woman's messianic gift. When Penny Chaney, a housewife and mother of three, contracts a mysterious virus and descends into a coma, strange things begin to happen around her in the hospital—a woman with severe diabetes finds herself completely cured; a girl with acute leukemia starts skipping down the hallway. Meanwhile, Penny lingers on a long misty bridge, somewhere between this world and the next. A disembodied voice claims there has only been one other like her before and gives her a choice: she can either go into the hereafter or return to earth as a healer. Penny decides to return and upon waking, finds herself besieged by the sick and downtrodden, who have already dubbed her the Mother Healer. The novel quickly deteriorates as Penny adjusts to her new status and a radical religious group attempts to kill her (in an effort to prove her messiah status). Ventre-Auerfeld offers some half-baked meditations on religion and morality, but in the end, the mystery of Penny's gift—how she came to possess it, what she's supposed to do with it and what it signifies—is never resolved, leaving readers more confused than enlightened. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4165-0056-8
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