Once Beyond a Time / by Ann Tatlock. 4.10.2016

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas ISBN 9781941103906

Adult Rating: 4

Award-winning author Ann Tatlock pens a novel that combines elements of time travel, science fiction, and mystery. Set in an old house in the mountains, Tatlock ‘s novel inspires the reader to grasp the “healing power of forgiveness” (back cover).

In Once Beyond a Time, the Crane family moves from Philadelphia to Black Mountain, North Carolina in the aftermath of the father’s extramarital affair. Former pastor Sheldon Crane is offered a job as car salesman. Sheldon’s wife is unwilling to forgive him, and their daughter is angry about the move away from her friends.

Eight-year-old Digger is the only one who is happy. When Digger disappears, they fear he is kidnapped or lost in the mountains. It takes this situation to break through the walls the family has built between themselves, as the Crane family interacts with past and future residents of the house.

Tatlock’s book uses multiple points of view, with each chapter identified by the character who provides the point of view. Once Beyond a Time starts off slowly, and reading the first part was challenging. The pacing picks up in the second half of the book: the characters change as they interact with other characters from other eras. They can’t touch one another but they can see and talk to one another. The time portal helps the reader understand the concept of God being the same yesterday, today, and forever.

A departure from her usual genre, this novel contains her signature rich prose and character development. Tatlock makes the reader think about her characters long after the final chapter is read.

Once Beyond a Time won the 2015 Christy Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Award. Recommended for adult collections in public libraries and church libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ