Author Hanit Pahima
Let’s just kick off with me being really impressed by author Hanit Pahima!
After 20 years in the high-tech industry Hanit is now pursuing her dream and talent of writing! This is a brave and admiral step, and one which begins with The Keepers of the Black Cave.
I’ve got two daughters to look after and can barely get a few blog posts done every now and then. Hanit’s a mother of 3 – and still finds the time to write a novel! Now that’s impressive!
The Keepers of the Black Cave
Good news / bad news.
I’m going to shred this novel into two parts; the writing which is like breathing through a wet towel, and the story itself which is like the towel that any good hitch hiker of the galaxy will tell you is a saving grace! 😉
I’m a bad news first guy (then we can finish on a good note!) so let’s kick the writing out of the way and get it done and dusted.
Actually, no let’s not do that. When I mentioned to Hanit that I thought that some of the writing wasn’t quite clicking into place she told me that the novel had been professionally edited. If this is the case, then there’s no point me in slaying the writing when it’s the dreadful third party editing.
I’d implore Hanit to use a different editor for her upcoming sequel!
However, I’ll add the caveat that when I read the four reviews on Amazon I noticed that one commented “…the book is written so well that…”. So maybe the editing is fine and it’s just me being fussy. That said, two out of the four reviews thought that this was a science fiction novel – and I’d have to disagree there too; there’s time travel but no science. (Even Hanit describes the novel on Amazon as a “Time travel fiction novel” 😉 )
OK. Time to move on! Now the good stuff! 🙂
The premise is a group of possibly extra-terrestrial siblings (Rick, main character Nicole, and Trey) who live for June 1st (“Aim Day”). On this day they drive to a cave which takes them back in time so that they can carry out individually prescribed tasks in order to keep history from changing.
The setup reminds me of the old Quantum Leap series where Samuel Beckett went back in time to correct historical mistakes. Whereas Sam had a hologram (Al) and his trusted equivalent of a smartphone (Ziggy) for on the job guidance, Nicole has none. However, she does seem to be adept at not only understanding what’s going on but also in looking after herself too.
In my review of Nathan van Coops’ The Chronothon I mentioned that I was pleased that chapters were not split per Chronothon task. This gave the novel a natural character-based flow. The same is true here in The Keepers of the Black Cave. At the beginning of the novel I wasn’t sure if this was going to be the case or not, but there aren’t many different “aims” throughout the novel and Hanit finds another way to close each of her chapters (or “episodes”).
Time Travel Component / The Cave
tasks “aims” are set to “keep history from changing” and in this light they’re repeated until they’ve been accomplished successfully.
I thought that this was an interesting concept. Although there are plenty of novels and movies with time guardians / police it’s tended to be the opposite kind of novel that I’ve found myself reading, i.e. where people hope to go back in time to either change history – or to prove that they’ve already been a part of it.
In my recently reviewed The Road to Alexander (Jennifer Macaire) there was a sense that history shouldn’t be altered. This was monitored through comparison of a record of events which happened the ‘first’ time around with what was happening after (or during, if we think in terms of eternalism) time travel took / is taking place.
It’s more confusing in Keepers of the Black Cave where we don’t know anything about points of view regarding history; who or what defines and sends the aims, or why. Indeed, neither do Nicole or her brothers, despite doing this for the past 875 years.
Indeed the cave itself is somewhat of a mystery. It just is. At times it seems that it’s more than a portal into history, but almost like a mother-figure who’s able to perform some sort of cleansing ritual with rays of light. There’s also a sense of a being a provider (the siblings are looked after for all remaining non – Aim Days) or a disciplinarian who’s ready to punish one of the characters if the rules aren’t followed.
I didn’t know whether to think of the Cave as Charlie in Charlie’s Angels, or as the Adjustment Bureau in the excellent film of the same name with Matt Damon.
My personal – and slightly hostile – feeling towards the cave makes me question its role. If history needs to be manipulated to ensure that things happen in the ‘right’ way, the assumption is that the first way it occurred is considered by the cave to be wrong. And that means that the aims aren’t necessarily putting things back on track, but meddling.
Given that the keepers of the black cave are extra terrestrials, this brings about a certain sense of worry…!
The main attraction for me in The Keepers of the Black Cave is Haven! Haven is a location which exists outside time and is effectively a holding place for people for any period of time. Apparently Elvis is there as he could communicate with Nicole and her brothers (somehow), but the real star of the show is Jacob.
Nicole’s involvement in the life of a secondary character, Jacob, is heartwarming, and I love it how their paths intersect more than once.
I’m sure that Haven (preferably with Jacob) could be made into a novel in its own right!
Closing Remarks and Rating * * * *
The premise of The Keepers of the Black Cave is an interesting one, but given the title of the novel I was expecting to have had some more insight into the cave itself. Indeed, contrary to the title it seems that the cave is the keeper of the three siblings.
The plot moves along nicely but I was always guessing whether it would break or not into another “aim” – though I think that this is my curse that I tend to think ahead too much. I loved the concept of Haven and the interaction between Nicole and Jacob which showed Nicole’s best side. For the rest of the novel I didn’t really have much of a connection with her.
As one of my first reads into the realms of time being monitored and looked after, I’m disappointed. Time travel mechanics aren’t always required in a time travel novel, but somehow in The Keepers of the Black Cave I was left wanting for something more in this direction, probably because of my disconnection with Nicole and fascination with Haven.
On the plus side I thought that the description of a castle as it was in the past compared to Nicole’s knowledge of it in the present was really well done. One line which stood out in particular was “the chairs looked ancient but were obviously brand new”. Brilliant!
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| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |