________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008


Keeper’s Child.

Leslie Davis.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2007.
340 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-01-2.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4


When Harold started to wheeze and choke, Jessie turned off his computer console and unhooked the phone. He piled the plastic equipment on Kris’s bed, and took Isabella’s wicker chair back down to the porch. He sat in the wind with his brother, watching the rippling sky and trying to ignore the dark blood that stained Harold’s upper lip.      

Sometime well into the last week of suffering Harold began to mutter and rave. The blood flowed more freely from his nose. His lungs seemed to stop and start. Jessie tried to convince his brother to stay in bed, but even in his witless state Harold wanted the sky and the ocean. Mornings began when Jessie carried his brother past the screen door. The sound of the rain on the porch punctuated Harold’s rambling delirium. The night after Harold began to call for his dead wife, Jessie sat up in the dark and waited for Robin. She came down the stairs in the heavy blackness. She was without a candle, and when she saw Jessie in the moonlight, gasped. “He’s not dead yet,” she said, as if offended by Jessie’s presence.

In 2008, the cruiser Sacramento sinks off the coast, spilling genetic material into the ocean. The seas begin to show signs of contamination sometime after 2028. By the year 2048, Bruster’s Syndrome is diagnosed, and by 2053 quarantine camps for the diseased are opened; the wealthy flee the continent. This is the back story to the novel, Keeper’s Child. Keepers operate homes for those who have the disease. Harold is such a Keeper. When Jessie returns to his brother’s home, he discovers there is only one desgastas, as the diseased are called, Robin, age 13, still alive in the house. Harold has raised Robin based on his own faith, and his bitterness.

     The storey is set in the year 2088. The land is diseased, and civilization has broken down. Jessie Grange is a doctor who has spent 30 years trying to combat the disease and protect the beautiful city, Carpenteria, where he lives, recognized there as a celebrity, behind the city high walls. His experiments are failing.

     Jessie returns to the family home where his brother Harold, the Keeper, is dying. After Harold’s death, Jessie takes a reluctant Robin and an eager Isabella, a local grocer’s daughter, back with him to the city where they can live under his protection and become well-educated. The two women discover that all is not as well within the city as they would like to believe. 

     Robin rebels against what she sees and goes to live in a desgastas community outside the city; Isabella remains a student at the university. Jessie continues his research. The city of Carpenteria is a place of wonder, complete with high tech devices and coffee shops. Beyond the city walls, the diseased land continues to spread with dead fish washed up on the beaches and mutating vegetation.

     Well-written and often graphic in its descriptions, this novel, at 340 pages, is divided into 21 chapters, and it is a story of a future ecological disaster that is man-made. It is a cautionary tale about a battle for the survival of humanity.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups and workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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