David C. Cook (September 1, 2009)
Garrett pulled me in with her first installment of Chronicles of the Scribe which allows readers a deeper glimpse into the story of Anne Boleyn than history dares to reveal. This second installment certainly lives up to the reputation Garrett is whittling out for herself in the world of historical fiction. In the Arms of Immortals carries the reader and a modern “nurse” straight into the midst of Europe’s deadliest moments, the Plague of the 14th century which decimates the world population in ratios unheard of with no deference based on station, age, or faith. Mariskka has snatched the novel penned by her dying charge at the care home where she worked and submitted it as her own. Now the heedless editors are demanding another best seller from the “actress” who made them believe she was a talented and lucrative author. In the midst of her quandry she meets supernatural beings who spirit her off to Sicily at the crux of the epidemic that remains unidentified and incurable 8 decades later. It appears this virulent disease not only spreads quickly but leaves the infected patient no time to fight once they have contracted it.
Readers and Mariskka both experience the 14th century as eyewitnesses to historical events and culture that maintains a biased view of those that might be able to assist the victims and protect those who have not yet contracted this silent, swift servant of death. When she returns home, Mariskka’s values are challenged and her faith tested by the injustice and discrimination she has witnessed in a time and place far removed from modern sensibilities though not so distant if we were to face the threat she witnessed.
Garrett once again delivers a plot that rarely slows down for the reader and characters to catch a momentary breath. Events domino till the entire wall has crumpled beyond repair. People refuse to trust those they cannot understand and those they trust risk infection through contact with the afflicted. Mariskka wins over readers despite her poor choices and the masquerade she carries off to profit from the work left behind by a lonely dowager. I look forward to the culmination of this series with Wolves Among Us which is yet to release as well as meeting the cast of a new point in history used to reveal ideas and beliefs that should have been reconsidered as archaic concepts long ago but may still survive in our modern mentalities in some form or another that will prove just as injurious as they were in the past. (ISBN#9780781448888, 320pp, $14.99)
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