From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Sixteen-year old Dana Landgrave has nightmares of a boy being sealed into a small space by a man he previously trusted. The dreams rob her of sleep and render her somewhat claustrophobic. Her therapist convinces Dana to undergo past-life regression therapy, on the supposition that her dreams are actually memories of a previous incarnation. As the story unfolds, readers learn of two previous lives, each of which features some people from her current existence in their earlier forms. Dana even travels to Great Britain with her family and boyfriend, where she confirms some past-life memories. This story has the feeling of the movie Dead Again
, in which characters from a previous existence have unexpected roles in this life. In The Red Thread
, though, the roles are fairly well telegraphed—the creepy shrink is actually a bad guy from the 16th century. Rather than drama, Townley uses melodrama. Instead of a clever resolution of plot strands, the over-the-top climax features water raging below in an open storm sewer and a crucifix filed to a deadly point. There are a few factual problems as well, including a shrink who has some difficulty with his own terminology, describing himself as a schizophrenic when he is portrayed as someone with multiple personality disorder. The titular red thread even turns out to be something of a loose end.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
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Dana Landgrave's nightmares and visions have gotten so bad that her therapist, Dr. Sprague, convinces her to try past-life regression. The results are a shock. First, she is transported back to eighteenth-century London and into the body of the matronly niece of a cruel artist. Disturbing as that is, it's far less terrifying than the life Dana thinks she lived during the 1500s--that of a murderer. While Dana struggles to find out more about her past, she is also negotiating the present: dealing with her demanding mother; watching her injured brother struggle to regain use of his legs; and spending time with her perfect boyfriend, who sticks by her despite her anger, confusion, and unswerving pursuit of her former lives. It's tough to get emotionally invested in a young woman who isn't particularly likable, and the history, the most interesting part of the novel, lacks the attention given to Dana's less-involving present. What's best here are^B the deliciously scary premise and the melodramatic outcome, which manages to pull most of the threads together. Stephanie ZvirinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved