Set in a futuristic world, Hopping’s book is part familiar — Carolina Lane, buskers, sandalwood incense — and part a Southeast-meets-pre-Mad Maxian landscape. The drinking water is polluted, there are secret police and a growing anti-Capitalist movement. But it’s actress-turned-activist Caitlin’s involvement with rescue efforts following an earthquake in Tennessee that introduces her to the dangerous and charismatic Xan.
Hopping writes both with an artistic ear and a sense of coiled tension. The novel is told in short chapters that offer more ambiance than answers and the action is tightly woven into these scenes, even though the story doesn’t follow a linear path. And, while the narrative does require a certain suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, the payoff is worth it. “Remember what I used to tell you about magickal powers,” says Maeve, Caitlin’s mother. This is after things get really weird — an alleged murder and travel between worlds, for example. “Scrying for instance? The ability to see remotely or communicate with spirits? That’s how I know Xan is innocent.”
A release party for rhythms on a flaming drum will be held at Grateful Steps, on Thursday, March 12, with a reading and signing at 5:30 p.m.