cover image Requiem


Graham Joyce. Tor Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86088-2

Though his Dark Sister (1992) won a British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Joyce is only now making his Stateside debut with this impressive novel that was first published last year in Britain. Here, Joyce takes full advantage of the ready-to-hand exoticism of modern Jerusalem, using the city's density as a catalyst for an absorbing fantasy that's grounded in strong characterization. Fleeing his (only semi-explained) guilt after the senseless, accidental death of his wife, Tom Webster quits teaching and visits his longtime friend and ex-lover, Sharon, in Jerusalem. Soon, he is haunted by hallucinations--or perhaps they're apparitions or djinnis--and is entrusted with some Dead Sea scroll fragments. Joyce's Jerusalem is suffused with squalor and splendor, religious meaning and political struggle, as Tom tries to figure out what a host of emissaries from both the natural and the supernatural realms are trying to tell him about the world and about himself. The conclusion leans a bit too much on the purely personal, as if all the weighty history and symbolism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were meaningful only as the key to one man's soul. Still, this is high-quality fantasy that at last puts Joyce on the American map. (Oct.)