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Reviewed by Ray Hosler for Readers' Favorite
Sacred Mounds by Jim Metzner reads like a magical mystery tour thanks to a clever plot involving spiritual time travel and body switching. The story starts innocently enough with the main character, Salvador Lewis Samuels, trying to save a young woman from drowning in the Hudson River, but takes a bizarre turn. The story picks up a year prior to the near-drowning, when Salvador visits an Indian mound and cave near Natchez, Mississippi. He is suddenly thrust into another man’s body from the distant past. He becomes Skyfisher, The Blind One Who Sees, a Natchez Indian, who in turn is transported to the present day in Salvador’s body. Key to the story are mounds built by Native Americans and still visible today. As Skyfisher, Lewis has to adapt to an unfamiliar culture steeped in mysticism where he sees in shimmering colors. He also gets to know and rely on his wife, Tell Me A Story. Meanwhile, modern-day Skyfisher must deal with evil characters who want to force him to use his mystical powers for their personal gain.
There is much to like in this novel. For starters, Jim Metzner writes in an engaging, descriptive style: “Lewis thought he saw the first stages of a human embryo, the flight of a hummingbird, the beating heart of a wildcat, the predatory dive of a hawk, the flick of a fish tail.” He describes the Natchez way of life in vivid detail and paints settings that are easily visualized. The story never lags and you’re constantly wondering how Lewis will deal with his new world, given his unusual, seemingly super-human abilities. The switch between bodies and scenes (past to present) is handled deftly in Sacred Mounds. The cast of supporting characters is interesting and matches up well with Lewis/Skyfisher. Will Lewis extract himself from his other worlds and become whole again? The symbolism Metzner evokes throughout includes butterflies and bubbles over like a cold, frothy drink on a hot summer's day. The mysteries of the universe are peeled back one chapter at a time in a story that will keep readers spellbound until the final page. This is novel writing at its best.