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Talisman    by Jane M. H. Bigelow order for
by Jane M. H. Bigelow
Order:  USA  Can
Pronghorn Press, 2007 (2007)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Fantasy often has an English feel to it. Not so with Talisman, which takes place in a Middle-Eastern or Indian-style of setting. Layla is a divorced woman working as a jewel thief in the hot and humid city of Charransar. One day, on a whim, she decides to steal an emerald from the Temple of Sarinsat. Little does she realize that this theft returns the jewel to the goddess Kossinli, with whom she is now inexplicably connected.

Trying to escape the city after the whims of the goddess bring her too much attention, she joins a caravan across the Wastes to another large city, Tzakende. There she meets up with the priestess of Kossinli and her mage cousin, a handsome man who steals Layla's bruised heart. It turns out that the meeting was ordained by fate as Kossinli has choosen Layla to steal back the remaining jewels that were stolen from her statue decades earlier in a time of earthquakes and invasions. If Layla ever wants to lead a normal life again, she has no choice but to use her skills as a thief for the goddess.

Bigelow has made a decent attempt at penning a unique fantasy. However, there are some flaws. The title is not the best fit as a talisman is only referred to once. Some foreshadowing at the beginning never comes to fruition. And while much of the novel is first person from Layla's point of view, some chapters switch to third person and other characters' perspectives. Though this approach can be effective, I found it confusing here, as sometimes Layla appears in these sections, which could naturally be seen through her eyes.

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