Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words
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Bruce Sarte grew up on the Jersey Shore where Sands of Time takes place, but now lives outside of Philadelphia. When not busy with his four kids, he enjoys baseball and playing guitar. Sarte has another novel, Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509, available in all formats, plus at least one more novel and some short stories available for your favorite ereader. For more information, visit his website.
They were there one moment and gone the next. Sam Shepard’s family died in a car accident shortly after Sam and his wife had a bitter argument. Crawling into a bottle to forget, he begins having dreams that they are still alive.
Three acts are typical of a play, and many novels can be broken down into a three act structure. Evaluated this way, Sands of Time is three acts, each a different genre.
The first act, which sets up the remainder, is contemporary fiction. While there are hints of several directions in which the story could go, this first part is mostly getting to know Sam Shepard. We learn Shepard is a successful business owner haunted by the death of his wife and children, struggling with alcohol and faith; not just religious, but also faith in himself.
Act two reads like a mystery with a hint of romance as Shepard finds clues indicating not all is as it seemed. Act three introduces a mostly unexpected paranormal element and could be classified as a paranormal thriller.
I’ve read books like this before and they’ll often feel like they take a change of direction that makes no sense. As a reader, I’ll feel like the author is cheating by setting up expectations in my mind and then not meeting them. (Read our review of Jimmy Stone’s Ghost Town for an example.) I didn’t feel this way with Sands of Time. In principle, I like the idea of genre mixing, but it can be hard to pull off. Sarte manages this feat by giving hints in prior sections of what is coming. He also smoothly segues from one section to the other. Both of these make what could have seemed like sudden changes feel like a logical story flow. Last, Sarte pulls the threads together from all three parts, accomplishing a surprise ending that is satisfying in all respects.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four stars