Dr. Sylver and the library of everything

Dr. Sylver and the library of everything
(The Sylver Chronicles, Book 1

Paul Kercal
Highland Books, 2004, £6.99, Pbk., 320p.;
ISBN 1897913710

Paul Kercal obviously has a visionary world already established in his head for the Sylver Chronicles series with characters and incidents. His style of introducing us to it is a bit jumpy and abrupt, even disconcerting which makes immersion into, and understanding of, Paul’s vision difficult. We are given quick brushstroke descriptions of characters and are often presented with outward behaviour without much indication as to what their internal dynamics might be – or again it is dropped rather abruptly into the story line. There is an effort made at greater length for a couple of characters (notably Miss Kerral) which does not really allow us into the full dimensionality of them.

But it is very like life – that our perceptions and understandings of others are received in fleeting encounters repeated over time. Depth to them is another issue altogether.

One does feel, though, the jerkiness, the routine, the usualness and the unique community of school life and relationships along with the same aspects of the home life of some of the characters. This is then juxtaposed with the “other realm” of angels, demons, where evil and good are continually in tension – fighting for control of our souls.

What is touching is how we, with our souls in whatever state they are in (usually with good or bad words infiltrated into us by these spiritual forces) can quite powerfully influence each other for better or worse, for healing or wounding. It seems that only a few are chosen or find the way to being able to “see things closer to the way [the Creator] sees them” to a degree of spiritual power that enables them to be responsible for many but many who are open to the Way can have influence over one or some which then ripples out to others.

One person (such as Charlotte) coming along and not seeing someone in their accustomed label box (such as Mushy) means that new dynamics take effect which enables him to be freed into who he is meant to be. Charlotte jolts Jamie out of his perception re Mushy and this is a turning point for Jamie’s growth spiritually – to be shocked out of his fear constraints into a more liberating view of the meaning of life and what his part is going to be.

The authorial quirky dry humour comments throughout the book are a charm, and enable us to feel that we are standing alongside a friend as we try to understand the worlds that he is presenting to us in this first book.

Dr. Sylver the angel librarian is a delight and Simon another big hunk angel – in fact we are grounded into a reassurance about the possibility of interlinking between human and angelic qualities in each sort of creature. Angels do feel pain, and hope as Paul says. The whole concept of the Repository of Time and the changing books that Dr. Sylver has the job of editing is amazing; the doves; God’s loving laughter with His dear creatures not at them (Dr Sylver in this case); Dr. Sylver’s apartment, phone, watch; her looks and clothes; what some angels wear (presumably when their wings are not in evidence) all attract us into a warm loving sane realm that comforts inexpressibly. As does the “changed” library. It will be absolutely awesome to step into Paul’s vision again in the next book and hopefully some loose threads from this story and some unformed characters will be further revealed to us.

There are some typos – the most annoying being the consistent use of “bought” when “brought” is meant. The others are a few missed letters in various words.

Through this rattling good tale: young people are affirmed and encouraged and ministered to and cared about in this book in an understated way, and presented with tools for living or ways of looking at the different realms of life which should challenge them to think and invite them to respond.

Contributed by Robyn Whitefern who is a member of the Christian Librarians’ Network of Australia and New Zealand.