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Dance of the Lights

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Dance of the Lights
Frank relishes fast success and early retirement, but struggling to preserve his life’s work thrusts him into a desperate battle to protect the people he cares about most.

Beverly seeks a new beginning in Tarpon Springs—until those she trusts steal control of her destiny, forcing a fight for her very survival.

All twelve-year-old Kevin wants is attention from the only man he respects, yet murder and the wrenching indifference of a callous legal system toward one vulnerable child proves even friendship might never be enough.

Riven by tragedy, consumed by grief, all three must confront the wondrous possibility that our indelible bonds may somehow transcend even death, that a cherished soul truly can find the way back.

Only together might this improbable family dare embrace their own brand of unexpected love, that infinite potential to achieve more than any one person can alone. Through it all, they are teased by the mystery of those dancing lights, a million pinpoints in every imaginable color swirling to form brilliant images of extraordinary lives.
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“Dance of the Lights” by Stephen Geez is a very well written book.

It is also an unusual tale, not falling into any well-defined genre or literary niche. My best attempt at categorization would be a fictional multi-generational biography, similar in some ways to Steinbeck’s classic “East of Eden” or similar works. There are multiple focal characters, and we are treated to a detailed and descriptive ‘slice of life’ perspective from their various points of view as well as their interactions with circumstances and each other over the course of several decades. The characters in this work are richly drawn and very believable, with personality foibles and quirks that both endear them to the reader and help the story to progress. There is well constructed dialog throughout and the situations are both drawn from life and random enough to be interesting without stretching credulity. I did, (with some caveats), enjoy reading this story and with all that said – my review.

Our story opens and we are introduced to one of the main protagonists, twelve year old Kevin Riner, escaping for a brief moment from the somewhat squalid environs of the trailer home he shares with his single-mom Ruth and her sometimes live-in, drug dealing boyfriend Mark.

Kevin is dozing peacefully; hidden in a hollow log near the shores of Lake Tarpon, a secluded place he retreats to when he is troubled. He awakes amidst the swirl and dance of beautiful lights. He has seen them before and they always serve to soothe him. He always feels a near-mystical connection with Nature and her creatures when the lights appear there.

Kevin’s current source of distress is the disturbing presence of Mark and the way he seems to have both invaded his home and become a domineering and evil influence on his mother. As she spirals downward into drugs and criminal behavior the one adult mentor he can count on is his nearby neighbor, Frank Tanyon, a grandfatherly older man who lives in a upscale condo near the lake. Kevin decides to visit with Frank, rather than deal with Mark while his mother is away. When he arrives he discovers that one of the units next door to Frank’s, empty for several months, is today a beehive of activity! Frank has a new neighbor moving in, and he and Kevin watch as the movers go about their work.

Before long Frank and Kevin get to meet this newcomer, Ms. Beverly Herndon, a newly widowed middle-aged woman who has moved to the area to be nearer to her lovely daughter Linda and her sister Loretta. Both Frank and Kevin immediately take a liking to Beverly and Linda, (not so much Loretta), and the feeling turns out to be mutual. It is upon the various relationships between these central characters that the rest of this somewhat overly detailed and at times meandering story depends.

As we follow along there are a fair amount of secondary characters brought onstage and a great deal of the dialog and action in this tale is devoted to describing detailed legal, business and financial matters as they pertain to the aforementioned characters and the changes that come into their lives because of them. The life circumstances of each character also undergo many changes, as the narrative spans over twenty years,  and there are some surprising twists and a good deal of unexplained or at least somewhat mysterious supernatural events intertwined in all of their lives. No spoilers but you will be very intrigued, and perhaps puzzled (as I was) by how this story unfolds.

I gave this book a rating of four stars, though it was close to getting a slightly lower rating. Overall what saves this work is the brilliant writing, every scene is beautifully described and the dialog is spot on, believable and well-constructed throughout.  Where this book loses points is in the somewhat haphazard plotting, the almost too-perfect way that each potential conflict is ultimately resolved and the meandering and at times fuzzy story arc.

I found this disappointing as Mr Geez has taken the time and limned beautifully realized and fully fleshed characters and they all have plausible and interesting interactions. The problem I experienced was an emotional distance that was never bridged.  I found myself, no matter how much I wanted to, unable to feel deeply for these characters because they just seemed to cruise through each ‘conflict’ and plot point almost effortlessly. The story lacked appropriate tension and my satisfaction as a reader was blunted as each potential point of inflection melted meekly away. All that said, I did enjoy Mr. Geez’s writing style and character descriptions, he is obviously an experienced and talented author and I look forward to other works by his hand.

 

Submitted by Michael Lynes

 

Endorsements
I was immediately drawn to this book because of the alluring cover and intriguing title--the ambiguity of it appealed to my curious side. I wasn't sure what to expect the story to be about, but I knew I was in for an interesting read. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching narratives I've ever experienced.

The author's descriptions are unique and riveting, laced with raw emotion that catapults readers straight into the heads and hearts of each of the characters. We feel all of their emotions - sadness, angst, joy, and loss. Our hearts ache for the young Kevin Riner who learns about life the hard way, Beverly who finally opens herself up to love again, and Frank, who learns that life is better when shared with someone you love. Each of these characters, along with a host of others, have a unique story to tell; yet the author finds a way to entwine all of their experiences together in a remarkable way.

This story had a little bit of everything I search for in a tale: emotion, suspense, murder, and even a bit of court room drama - which I enjoyed. But mostly, it had an almost lyrical story that makes one really take stock of the fragility and value of life.

I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who's ever lost a loved one to read this book. Whether it's possible or even believable, or not, for these things to happen; it leaves you with a sense of peace and hope that perhaps they could. I will never forget this story.
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