Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TBR Day: Stitches in Time, Barbara Michaels

Title: Stitches in Time
Author: Barbara Michaels
Published: 1996, HarperCollins
Category: Suspense
Rating: 7/10

I am really late in posting this. I meant to post this review this morning as part of Keishon's TBR day (details here). Does this still count? It's not quite midnight yet. ;)

I had many reasons to read this book. I've been wanting to read more Michaels (everyone says good things about her); someone was reading it lately (Samantha?) and they said the hero was a cuddly bear (love it!); and the action centers around a quilt (I quilt).

Rachel is a graduate student working on her dissertation and working part-time in a high-end vintage clothing store. One day three gorgeous nineteenth-century quilts are left on the porch by a would-be theif. Rachel is strangely drawn to one of them, an album quilt, and strange things start to happen. Her boss's husband (who Rachel has a little crush on) makes a pass, then Rachel discovers that she's started to violently sabotage her boss, without having any conscious knowledge of it. They start to think that the quiltmaker had imbued the quilt with some sort of black magic, and they don't know how to stop it. Rachel and her friends must figure out how to rid her of this possession before history repeats itself with tragic results.

I freely admit that I'm a total weenie about ghost stories, I really am. In the light of day, I have no trouble dismissing any kind of paranormal occurrence as a bunch of hooey, but when I'm wrapped up in a book I can get scared. And possession by an evil spirit is something that I find especially creepy. To not have control over your own actions would be horrible. Poor Rachel blithely grinds up glass and puts it in these people's food, and she doesn't even know she's doing it. But the whole paranormal suspense here was done well; it gave me major shivers without ever going over the top. The main characters are all highly educated people who provide all kinds of anthropological evidence about folk magic done all over the world -- even my very rational mind began to think that maybe there is something to all this superstition.

Michaels's characters are so real. They're definitely not perfect -- they have petty arguments and get snappish with each other. But they still somehow manage to be really likable. And Rachel's love interest, Adam, is adorable. A sort of absent-minded professor type, constantly cheerful and helpful but also occasionally clueless.

This is the second Michaels book I've read, and I have to say that I'm not really feeling it. Maybe she is one of those authors I can appreciate as a good writer, but whose books just don't do much for me. I think I'll go back to her Amelia Peabody series (written under the name Elizabeth Peters). They are more my cuppa.


Jill D. said...

When I first started reading, a friend of mine had recommended Barbara Michaels to me. I believe I was in 9th grade at the time and the book was Witch. I just loved the subtleness of the writing. I ending up reading all her books and then found out she was Elizabeth Peters and then read all her books. I love her characters. You are right they do seem so real. Believe it or not I don't seem to remember this book. One of my favorites of her is Patriot Dreams. It's a story within a story.

Jennie said...

You know, I actually have Patriot Dreams in my TBR! I bought it because it's set in Williamsburg, VA and that's where I'm from. And it's sort of a time travel, right? I love Colonial Williamsburg. Aaahh! I think I'll have to read that one. Then onto Peabody. :)

Li said...

I liked this one, but thought "Shattered Silk" was better. It's a loose trilogy - "Ammie, Come Home", "Shattered Silk", and "Stitches in Time".

I'll have to look up "Patriot Dream" now.

IMO, nothing can compare to her Peabody books tho!

jmc said...

Shattered Silk and Stitches in Time are my two favorite Barbara Michaels books. I also like her The Dancing Floor. They all feel very gothicky to me, despite their modern settings.

The Amelia Peabody books are hit or miss for me, more miss lately. I think I just read too many back to back, which isn't good for any series.

rachel said...

I know what you mean about scary/creepy books! I think I may skip this one...

Devon said...

Ahh...Barbara Michaels. My adolescence included a steady diet. Shattered Silk is my favorite as well I think. My favorite spooky one was actually by her as Elizabeh Peters--Devil May Care.