Book: Dry Water

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Dry Water

Author: Eric S. Nylund
Publisher: Avon Books (T)

Lightning chased Larry Ngitis through the honey mesquite and creosote-covered hills of Seco County, New Mexico, to Dry Water, a reborn ghost town with a reputation for unusual occurrences and inexplicable phenomena.

A shy, sensitive author and reluctant psychic, Larry has the unsettling ability to see how other people will die. He believes he has come to this far removed place to escape old entanglements and write in peace. But there is no peace, and there never has been, in Dry Water. There are, however, rumors of a fabled springs of “water that cannot be drunk,” flowing through a netherealm where living and dead mingle, causing ripples in history and wrinkles in time. It is Larry’s destiny, unbeknownst to him, to locate the remarkable waterway.

His arrival has not gone unnoticed by two of the town’s more unconventional denizens: Raja, “Daughter of the Terror Winds,” a local celebrity and witch who seeks the water’s power to erase humankind’s future by altering the past…and Nikolos, her lover/nemesis, an ageless necromancer whose eternal mission is the destruction of all prophets.

But, while clueless, Larry Ngitis is far from helpless, as he is joined by otherworldly allies—a gunslinger’s ghost and a ten-year-old Navajo shaman—who are committed to aiding him on his terrifying and essential journey through different lives and other dimensions.


Eric Nylund has said that Dry Water is a tribute to Roger Zelazny. And so it is—this novel alludes to many of Zelazny’s books, including the Amber series. One character—a deceased fantasy writer named Dolinski—is clearly meant to represent Zelazny. And Nylund works in an amazing assortment of myth and magic, as Zelazny did. Tribute aside, this is highly original contemporary fantasy. Nylund peoples his New Mexico setting with ghosts from area history, a Navajo shaman and his son who act as guides and protectors of hero Larry Ngitis, a witch who sponsors authors in her spare time, and a necromancer who goes through history murdering anybody who seems likely to bring about major historical change. Larry’s work as a science fiction writer also gives Nylund an opportunity to make some witty points about the genre. The pace is manic, with Nylund cutting back and forth between characters, time periods, and locations in dizzying fashion, but the plot works and the ending is satisfyingly unexpected. Tim Powers fans will definitely enjoy this. —Nona Vero

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