by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre



311pp/$9.00/January 1994

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The Woman Between the Worlds

On 23 November, 1898, an invisible woman approaches a London tattoo-shop asking to receive a full-body tattoo so she can appear in public. After overcoming the shop-owner's cynicism, mostly with money, he agrees to complete the woman's tattoo. Thus begins F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's first novel.

The Woman Between the Worlds is a first person account of the events which follow that fateful night in Victorian England and a strange other realm whose inhabitants are invisible to humans since they only reflect ultraviolet light (humans appear shadowy to these aliens). The other realm has been taken over by a tyrant known as the Dreadful Eye and the invisible woman, Vanessa, is a rebel who has fled to Victorian London to escape from his forces and try to restore her world to the way it was.

Perhaps the strongest point of MacIntyre's book is his ability to capture the style of Victorian writers. The less fantastic portions of the book can be read as if they came directly from a late Victorian diarist, and even the fantastic parts read as if written by H.G. Wells or some other Victorian author. At the same time, MacIntyre's prose is easier to read than much of the Victorian prose it is based on.

I very much found myself comparing The Woman Between the Worlds to another recent novel set in Victorian England: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. Like Newman's book, TWBtW is a who's who of Victorian England, although MacIntyre restrains himself by limiting his cameos to actual Victorians, mostly occultists. Appearances are made by William Yeats, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Sir William Crookes, Bram Stoker, Edith Bland, and of course, the king of Victorian occultists, Aleister Crowley, who plays a major role in the book.

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