The Children Of Pisces: Book Two: The Crystal Earrings by R E Lewin (book review).

When an author plans a series of books and has a good idea of the story arc, it is difficult to decide where to end one book and just as hard to decide to know the best place to start the next. One school of thought is that each book should be relatively complete but with the potential to carry on with the characters. This is useful if your publisher decides to drop the series, it doesn’t leave the reader too frustrated. The alternative is to finish on a cliff-hanger with the hope that the reader is invested enough with the characters that buying the next book is inevitable.

This works best when there isn’t too big a gap between instalments. The former approach means that the author can introduce new characters and build up the new scenario without too much problem. With the cliff-hanger approach, most readers would rather plunge straight in where the previous volume left to find out how the characters get out of the mess the author left them in. R E Lewin went for the cliff-hanger.

In ‘The Children Of Pisces: Book One: The Two Pendants’, the action focused mainly on Tammy and Mikie, two of four half-alien children with special powers who were all brought up with different guardians. They are now twelve and approaching their thirteenth birthday. Mikie is able to read and coerce minds, while Tammy has an affinity with animals. The setting is 2070 in the years after the Pisces Plague has wiped out much of animals and humans. They have already realised that this was released by the aliens and they are seeking the siblings. At the end of this book, several of Tammy’s friends have been injured and Jude Brunswick, who with husband Ed adopted Tammy, has been abducted.

In ‘The Crystal Earrings’, we are introduced to Mina, another of the siblings. She is strong-headed and angry. Trouble follows her around. Her talent is to be able to manipulate inorganic materials such as metal. She also has a pair of crystal earrings which can make her invisible. She was left with Lei, her mother’s best friend and a government agent. As with Tammy and Mikie, the aliens are looking for her. They trap her in a scrapyard. This is where this volume starts and it isn’t until chapter five that the action returns to Tammy and the abduction of Jude. The rescue of Jude takes place two weeks before the situation that Mina finds herself in and this has to be resolved before they can seek out Mina and manage to turn up just a t the right time.

It is from Lei that we learn more about the aliens as she has worked with them. There are two factions amongst them. One group are those who released the Pisces virus with the intention of wiping out all animal life and converting the planet to a state where they can live comfortably. The other group are more ethical and recognise that they need to co-habit with Earth’s inhabitants. It is they who provided the means to stop the plague and who created the hybrid children.

Mina doesn’t feel that she fits in with the friendship group Tammy and Mikie have formed. Her decision to leave the safety of Vivacity Island where the Brunswick’s have a Safari Park and animal breeding programme lead her to discover spaceship where the enemy has its own human genetic breeding programme.

While this volume has taken on more aspects of future technology and recognises that the Pisces virus was not the first pandemic of the century, there are also places where the explanations are a little lengthy and technical for the proposed age of the readership. The spaceship has a few worrying issues. While it can be accepted that the aliens have developed a means of producing artificial gravity, there is no hint of the weightlessness expected from an orbiting craft, it seems to be in a geostationary orbit within the atmosphere.

The physics for this is suspect. To maintain that position above the Earth, it would need to be well above the atmosphere, otherwise it would have to be travelling at an exceptional speed to stay up and there is then the problem of air resistance.  Two members of the party that end up on the alien mothership, are pushed out of a hatch into space, there is no airlock, and since they survive hanging from cables beneath the ship, there is no apparent vacuum outside.

Other than these issues, this book is likely to appeal to younger readers who won’t be worried about inaccuracies, it is us adult readers who are fussy.

Pauline Morgan

June 2023

(pub: Matador, Leics. 2022. 361 page paperback. Price: £10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-80313-508-3)

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