Wednesday, December 8, 1999


Karen Williams

Nightshade is a delightful romantic fantasy by Karen Williams! The characters are intelligent, their dialog is witty and real with personalities that draw the reader into the story.

Set in a largely lesbian seaside community in New England, Nightshade weaves current insights on American and lesbian culture into a story about witches, fairies, eternal youth, and love.

Nightshade is about Alex who was reared by a less than compassionate aunt after an automobile accident killed both her parents. Alex grew up to be a forester and silent partner in a women's restautant and bar. However, those early traumas haunt Alex who loves women but won't allow herself to fall in love with anyone, lest she too be lost. If you've ever found yourself personifing your pet with dialog, Nightshade is worth reading for the special dog treats that allow, Boogia Wooga, the witch's Scottie to talk. The scenes had me giggling! Nightshade is the story of healing those old hurts of Alex while saving a trapped fairy and taking the risk to love. With a charming use of magic and love, Nightshade enchanted this reader.

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Karin Kallmaker
Bella Books

For long time fans of Touchwood, Watermark is a heartbreaker. It is a fine example of Kallmaker's skill at characterization that we want to read the story of Lousia's death and RayAnne's grief and survival.

Kallmaker's writing continues to improve and Watermark is no exception in that trend. The apparent inconsistency in Tucker's age originates in Touchwood which was Kallmaker's second novel. His age changes inappropriately to the six months of that story with a reference toward the end of his being ten. So his age in the Watermark is correct to his first age stated in Touchwood.

In fairness to the readers who don't quite like Louisa in Touchwood, note that we don't hear Louisa's thoughts or know her feelings except from what she finally tells Ray. --I've often wondered if Kallmaker didn't give inner voice to Lou because she didn't feel comfortable speaking for a woman 20 yrs her senior. I think all of Kallmaker's books since Touchwood include more of the internal view of both lead characters like Watermark did with Teresa and Rayanne-- If Louisa seems less rich a character for some readers, it might be more for this reason.

Each of Kallmaker's romances manages to address different elements of life in the lesbian nation. I've not found a Kallmaker book that isn't worth buying and reading. The idea of a sequel to a book about falling in love is always problematic because there must be some conflict or problem to make a story. I grant you that part of me wishes that Louisa had lived at least another 12 years, well and happy and enjoying her relationship with Ray. It is interesting and even amusing to see how RayAnne has grown in the last ten years (a testament to her healthy relationship with Lou) and heart-warming to see Ray's old friends -- Judy and Dee-- are still together. The image of Louisa's Watermark on Ray is a very poignant one.

L for Louisa, L for Lesbian ...

Keep writing Ms. Kallmaker

-MJ Lowe