cover image Dark Cities Underground

Dark Cities Underground

Lisa Goldstein. Tor Books, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86828-4

The basis of some of the world's most enduring myths is explored in this new novel from Goldstein (winner of an American Book Award for her fantasy novel The Red Magician, 1982). Journalist Ruth Berry is working on a biography of E.A. Jones, beloved author of The Adventures of Jeremy in Neverwas, a classic series of children's books based on stories that Jones's son, Jeremy, told her about the imaginary Land of Neverwas. Now in his 50s, Jeremy ""Jerry"" Jones remembers little of his childhood, but Ruth's questions stir up a batch of old memories. Ruth isn't the only one dredging up the past: mysterious Barnaby Sattermole insists that Neverwas and its inhabitants are quite real, and he wants Jerry to show him the entrance, said to be someplace underground, in the World Below. As Ruth and Jerry delve deeper, they uncover links between the plot of the Neverwas series and Egyptian myths: specifically, how the god Osiris was killed by his brother Set and then restored to life by Isis. Ruth begins to wonder if many of the best-known children's books might actually be based on places and events in Neverwas. When Sattermole kidnaps Ruth's daughter, Gilly, Ruth and Jerry must enter the World Below to find the Eye of Horus, the key to Neverwas. The novel moves rapidly, building momentum as each secret is revealed. The narrative feels overplotted, however, and the characters not as full-blooded as those in some previous Goldstein books. Still, the story's premise, and the questions that arise from it, should keep readers involved. (June)