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Graham Hancock
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2010

The Disinformation Company
USA Trade Paperback, First Edition
ISBN 978-1-934-70856-9
Publication Date: 10-19-2010
400 pages, $26
Date Reviewed: 10-30-2010

Index:  Fantasy  Horror

Ria is a teenager living in Northern Spain some 24,000 years ago. Her problems include hunting for food and brutish thugs from a competing family in her own tribe who threaten to rape her when she rescues a hapless crippled Neanderthal from their clutches. Leoni is a modern teenager who lives in LA. Her problems are brutish parents, including a father who has raped her in the past, and drug addiction, which threatens to kill her in the present. A near-death vision takes her into a world that is neither past nor present, but shockingly real. Ria finds herself there soon enough, and both soon realize that their lives are ... entangled.

Graham Hancock is famous — and in some circles, infamous — for his non-fiction, which posits all sorts of history not included in the textbooks. His first novel is 'Entangled,' and it's likely to evoke the same sort of dual reaction.

Hancock's story of mingled times and supernatural threats that span the ages is certainly a compelling novel on a variety of levels. It's a fast-paced story with lots of action and adventure, and more cliffs than the Grand Canyon. The plot flips back and forth between Ria and Leoni, as they realize that they are being brought together by one supernatural entity to fight another that threatens humanity. As noted above, the book does include some unpleasantly graphic scenes of rape, incest and violence that could easily alienate readers. Be warned; and as well that each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, which means you either stay up all night or get really annoyed. I expected the latter but experienced the former. Sure, it's a cheesy device, but it's also effective.

Hancock's heroines are young women who discover a steel-like inner strength, but find they need all they have and more to deal with the perils that face them. I rather liked that Leoni was something of an unlikeable, spoiled brat whom you might hope to see get arrested in shopping mall for bad behaviour. Ria is more obviously heroic, but certainly not perfect either. To Hancock's credit there's a fair amount of gray here, and some men in lesser roles who are neither purely evil nor perfectly good. On the other hand, you will find some examples of knights in shining armor, but since they are in full-charge on white steeds (or bearing life-saving medicine, as it were), they tend to get caught up in the action, along with the reader.

What makes Hancock's work quite different from that of dozens of action-packed fantasy and horror authors is the informed nature of his speculation. When Hancock describes an out-of-body experience, it rings true. He's had one. And when he explores a wildly imaginative and new-age-ish vision of Neanderthal society — in which our insurance-advertising friends are telepathic healers — the world-building is unexpectedly strong. Hancock's surreal interzone is entertainingly filled with peculiar critters that have just the right feel for a supernatural netherworld. Hancock is well-steeped in all the arcane notions he brings to his fiction. For all the wild thrills and cliff-hanger chapter-endings, 'Entangled' has a certain air of authority.

The ARC I had in my hand claims that the novel is the first part of a trilogy, but the author told me in person that this is the first of two books. Though the novel comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion, there's clearly a lot of problems left unsolved.

'Entangled' is both refreshingly free of the usual stuff of supernatural horror or fantasy adventure fiction. Hancock does follow a well-trod thriller formula with regards to his plotting and pacing; there's nothing literarily revolutionary about 'Entangled.' But he clearly wants — and knows how to — let his readers have a good time. 'Entangled' has something in common with the drugs that transport its characters to other realms; if you can take it and survive, you're quite likely to have an out-of-body (reading) experience.

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