cover image The White City

The White City

Roma Tearne. Gallic, $14.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-910709-33-7

Apocalyptic visions haunt Tearne’s lyrical fantasy novel, set in an undated near future. The heroine, Hera, recalls a succession of painful losses paralleling episodes in recent world history. Her brother, Aslam, is arrested by English police as a suspect involved with Islamic terrorism in a disintegrating London, where a 27-year freeze engendered by environmental damage is exacerbated by the cost of small wars. Hera is proud to be an Arab girl, but her family has never successfully assimilated into British society, living in a community “caked in hopelessness.” At 19, Hera falls in love with the much older and enigmatic Raphael, a survivor of the Pinochet atrocities in Chile, which Tearne (Mosquito) devotes considerable effort to describing; their relationship is portrayed soul-wrenchingly. This small novel has a large message about human brutality as a “legacy of Hitler.” Tearne’s sensitive tale of love amid the ruins of a Western civilization attempts, mostly successfully and always passionately, to tie the plight of Muslim immigrants to the suffering of all victims of modern totalitarian regimes. (Oct.)