#BookReview: Living in Threes by Judith Tarr

threesThree lives. Three worlds. Three times. Three young women, past, present, and future, come together to solve an age-old mystery and save a world. Meredith is just settling in for a long and lazy summer, when her mother announces that she’s sending Meredith to Egypt to dig up an ancient temple. That’s her mother’s dream vacation, not hers. But there are greater forces at work than a sixteenth-birthday present she doesn’t want and a summer she didn’t plan. Meru lives on a far-future Earth, where disease has been eliminated and humans travel through the stars in living ships. Just as Meru is about to fulfill her dream of becoming a starpilot, a mysterious message sends her on a journey to find her missing mother and save the people of Earth from a deadly plague. Meritre is a singer in the Temple of Amon in ancient Egypt. Her people have survived a devastating plague, but Meritre foresees that the sickness will return. As she struggles to find a magical spell that will keep her loved ones safe, the gods take one last life. That life, and that death, will resonate through Meredith and Meru to the end of time.

I got this Young Adult book through Librarything’s Early Reviewer batch, and opted for it based on the summary. I was pleasantly surprised that a YA fiction book was easy to read and not patronising (something I specifically dislike about YA books).

The book focuses on Meredith, a 16 year old American girl who fancies a summer break looking after her white horse (who is hopefully pregnant), turtle watching and hanging out with her friends. However, her mother – recovering from cancer – sends her to Egypt to help Meredith’s aunt in a dig. There she becomes aware of two other people: Meru who lives 4000 years into the future and Meritre who lives 4000 years in the past (as a singer for the female Pharaoh). All are tied together through a sickness/plague and they have to help Meru save the future from a plague.

This book suffered slightly in being the last book of 2012, during a busy Birthday and Christmas period, which meant it became the first finish of 2013 instead. The start was a little shaky, where I feared Meredith was going to be a stroppy teenager (and she was, just a little). However, when the other two characters came in, the telling became much better, and Meru in particular was realised well and a natural expansion of our current reliance on the web. The progression of the story was good, and the dealing with death (all three characters have people close to them who die).

The book ended quite quickly, and leaves the line open for other stories (I would be almost disappointed if Tarr HASN’T written more books in this series – it opens up so many opportunities to continue this world…..)

About the Author

Judith Tarr (born 1955) is an American author, best known for her fantasy books. She received her B.A. in Latin and English from Mount Holyoke College in 1976, and has an M.A. in Classics from Cambridge University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University. She taught Latin and writing at Wesleyan University from 1988-1992, and taught at the Clarion science-fiction-writing workshops in 1996 and 1999.

She raises and trains Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona. The romantic fantasies that she writes under the name Caitlin Brennan feature dancing horses modeled on those that she raises.

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