Between Times by Henry Mitchell: book review

What Tolkien has done for Middle Earth, George Martin has done for the Game of Thrones world, and Stephen Lawhead has done for Ancient Briton, Mitchell has done for the Southern Appalachians. His highly anticipated second novel, Between Times, not only delivers on it’s promise to continue the enchanting story of Ben Drum’s pilgrimage through The Laurel but actually may surpass it’s predecessor in depth of narrative, lyrical beauty and artistic genius of storytelling.

Celtic Knot

 

The Celtic Knot. Known also as the Endless Knot or the Mystic Knot. You’ve seen them. Their sweeping, interlaced arcs and lines. From as early as 450 AD they’ve adorned clothing and structures, illuminated ancient texts, and decorated human flesh. Much has been argued as to their intended meaning but one glance reveals what the images themselves convey of interweaving, overlapping… interconnectedness. To me they speak of the connection between the visible realm and The Otherworld, of beginnings and endings that become beginnings, of thin places where the barrier between the two worlds provides a window…or a door.

Within the pages of Between Times entwine an endless knot as intricate, interwoven and captivating as those illuminating the Ancient Book of Kells. The writer tips his artist’ hand. Mitchell has given much of his 73 years to creating visual art. In Between Times, as in The Summer Boy, one sees the brush strokes of a master. His medium has changed. He paints now with words as beautifully as he ever did with pencil, brush or gouge. This novel is a work of art. A literary Celtic Knot. Not unlike the character Rider, prepare to be swept up into a torus of prose, a Great story artfully and poetically interwoven with magic, mystery, legend and beauty.

as here…

“Still, now and again he would go, drawn by a movement in the air or transient quality of light or a wind-borne cry of some wild thing. The looming peaks and ridges spoke to him continually in languages that were just beyond the threshold of understanding.”

and here…

“Mura loved these mountains the way he might once have loved a woman, or a deity. Every photograph he made was an act of adoration, of worship and communion.”

Even the chronological element of the narrative itself carries with it this beautiful interweaving, gently and elegantly flowing back on itself. I read the last word of the last page and realized that what seemed to be the end might just also be the beginning. I immediately turned back to the first chapter, where the story left off…or began…or both!

Listen…

“Laurel is a space apart, Horace, out of any moment. Your world might think of it as something like a singularity enfolding all times, all places. The reality is more like the center of a flower, where all the petals join and become one with the others…”
While being swept up into the grand narrative and wooed by the anapestic prose an unsuspecting reader, if not careful, might just unwittingly begin to grasp the rudiments of quantum theory! The endless knot is complete and becoming. I’ve rambled on enough.

Mitchell has done it again. Yet another Appalachian epic. If you read one book this year. Make it Between Times.

The gist?
If you loved the Summer Boy, you must read Between Times. Like an ancient Lindisfarne Artist-Monk Mitchell deftly and beautifully weaves his Appalachian epic akin to a literary Celtic knot. If, like the author, you love mountains, wild places, if wilderness is your sanctuary…or you wish it was…read this book. If you long to be swept up in a great story, bigger and more ancient than your own…read this book. It is an absolute joy…a delight! Get lost, once again, in the Laurel. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll meet you there.

 

Find more of Henry’s writing at his site,

http://talesandwanders.com/

at his publishers site,

http://alfiedog.com/

at your local bookseller,

or purchase at Amazon.com

Remember, if you connect to Amazon through one of the links here at allwhowander.us a portion of the sale goes toward keeping the All Who Wander podcast going. Thanks in advance!

You can also follow Henry on Twitter and find him on Facebook.

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