"Color And Light" (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 9th December 2000 (3)

This Sentinel Too AU story was nominated in the Cascade Times Awards 2000 in the "Best Sentinel Too" story category. I ended up reading this one twice, because I've fallen behind on my reviews, and forgotten what it was like, started glancing over it, and ended up reading it again. The printout is peppered with ticks and exclamation marks every few pages for the good bits...
    "You're cold." Jim reached around Blair for the blanket.
    "Freezing." Blair sighed gratefully as Jim brought the blankets up around both of them. He rested quietly against Jim for several minutes before speaking again. "I puked on your shirt."
    "Don't worry about it. Never liked that shirt anyway," Jim responded.
    "Hey!" Blair exclaimed, then grimaced in pain and gripped him tightly, drawing rapid shallow breaths. "I bought you that shirt."
    "Loved the shirt. Will miss it terribly," Jim corrected himself earnestly.

This was a much better resolution of "Sentinel Too part 1", than we actually got in "Sentinel Too part 2". The guys actually talk about it, and the blame isn't placed wholly on one or on the other, unlike some other stories.

This is also a good handling of Megan not knowing about the Sentinel stuff -- she doesn't discover it here, but she's putting more pieces of the puzzle together and I liked that. I liked seeing her being intelligent about it.

There's angst and scary bits, leavenings of smarm, misunderstandings, friendship, and action. There's good senses stuff, including little small things that remind us that Jim is a Sentinel all the time. There's good Blair and good Jim...
    "Why didn't you wait for me?"
    "I just...I had to--" Blair gave a helpless little shrug. "You would have made me go home!"
    Jim remained silent. He wasn't going to argue with that statement.
    "Right," Blair said. "So what happens now?"
    "I make you go home," Jim answered, hooking an arm gently across Blair's shoulders and drawing him to his feet. "It's time for you to come home."

I liked that it didn't take the line that Blair ought to abandon the diss in order to protect Jim, because there are also other people out there who need help, besides Jim. I also liked the subtle hint of a connection between them, and the dreams and mystical stuff that was there.

I wonder why it is that more than one person has written SenToo AUs where Alex kidnaps Blair and takes him to the Temple of the Sentinels; it seems to be an idea that appeals to a number of people. Alex here isn't completely loony, but she's not at all a nice lady...

The main problem with this story is -- it finishes too soon!

Addendum: nominated for favourite alternate universe story, 2001 Cascade Times Awards

"The Dark Heart" (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 1st November 2000

If I were to sum up this story in one word, that word would be "creepy". If you like Martha's spooky stories, you will like this one. It has its own logic, the logic of the Other, not that of the conventional workaday world where serial killers are just psychologically damaged, and there's no such thing as destined roles, or battles between good and evil. Thing is, that sounds terribly trite, but it all creeps up on you so gradually that you are drawn in and entranced by the story, and all seems to make perfect sense. Then you get to the end, and you wonder a bit what it all meant. But it doesn't matter, because for a while, you were transported somewhere else...

For a nice change, it isn't Jim who's got the Destiny -- Jim gets to be (which is very natural for him) the sceptic. Which leads to some good character conflict, because here's a scared Blair who needs support, and Jim won't give it to him... Good stuff.

Addendum: nominated for favourite horror/scary story in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards.

"Rain" (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 18th December 2000 (4)

Ah, I liked this. This story is set after Survival; Blair is still recovering from the shot to his leg. We open with a peek at Blair in academia, teaching one of his classes -- which I always love to see. Then we get some good senses ideas, and the central mystery of the story: Rain. Rain wasn't just another dead body to angst over -- I would have liked to get to know her more.

"Rain was always a bit extreme," Blair began again. "She jumped out of airplanes for fun. But she understood her own mortality -- accepted it in a way that was rare, in a way that allowed her to let everything touch her. Not me -- as much as I pursue understanding, there are things I block out. Rain was so open, she could read your secrets, and let her eyes tell you hers."

There were touches of lovely description "they are breakfast with large servings of silence", for example. Jim and Blair here were good, the portrayal of Naomi near the end was cool, and the end was just spot on.

"Snow Angels" (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 18th December 2000 (5)

Another cool offering from this author. The guys, an unusual guest character, some adventure, some smarm - what's not to like? We get banter and domesticity (and the interaction of Sentinel senses and one of the niggly details of a broken leg which I was unaware of) I liked the deft description of the baddies giving them life and distinctness, not just cardboard stereotypes. Jim is Jim and Blair is Blair, and she even tosses in a bit of fun banter with Brown. There's a bit where there's a fight going on where I found it a little hard to follow the action, of who was doing that to whom, but I guess in a movie I wouldn't have been able to follow it either. Again we get those little bits of poetic description, like "looking across the deep drifts of paperwork that covered his desk". And we finish off with a lovely bit of smarm.