Summary and book reviews of The Visitor by Sheri Tepper

The Visitor

by Sheri S. Tepper

The Visitor
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2002, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2003, 416 pages

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Book Summary

A thousand years after our 21st century civilization was obliterated by an asteroid, little remains other than myth and superstition; but a wasted world is coming back alive and the hope of recovery rests on Dismé who will uncover the truth and reclaim a lost world.

When an asteroid crashed into the Earth hundreds of years ago in the twenty-first century, much of what was considered civilization was obliterated. All that remains of that time are paltry fragmented memories of science and life colored by myth and superstition. The "magic" that once was America died horribly, along with most of the planet's inhabitants. But a wasted world is coming back alive -- despite the tyranny and cruel punishments that the repressive ruling order inflicts daily on a greatly reduced populace.

Dismé Latimer's entire family was lost forever, though not as a result of global cataclysm. Rather, much more recent and mysterious circumstances made Dismé an orphan, leaving the gentle, troubled young woman at the mercy of a cruel stepmother, an abusive stepsister...and a book.

A sacred, unsettling tome written by an ancestor -- the courageous scientist Nell Latimer, who left a husband and family behind in her attempt to salvage something of the post-castastrophe world -- Dismé's book contains disturbing ideas and revelations that are compelling a shy youth to take bold and dangerous action. But common "wisdom" and lore warn of malevolent entities out in the world, and advise would-be adventurers to stay where they are. Yet other myths suggest that the selfless band of planet-repairing scientists -- including Dismé's brave forebear -- have somehow, miraculously, survived to this day. And Dismé Latimer will uncover the truth and reclaim a lost world, whatever and wherever it might be.

Destiny, it seems, has chosen a most improbable defender to lead an imperiled planet out of the darkness. Perhaps somewhere beyond everything Dismé has ever known is her true identity -- and, hopefully, others similarly inclined who will fight alongside her for the common good. But there is evil also, a malevolence beyond imagining.

And far away, in the depths of the Earth, a gargantuan beast has roused itself after centuries of slumber. And it has begun to stir...

Chapter One
Dismé the Child

Deep in the night, a squall of strangled brass, a muted trumpet bray of panic: Aunt Gayla Latimer, wailing in the grip of nightmare -- followed shortly by footsteps.

"Papa?" Dismé peered sleepily at her door, opened only a crack to admit her father's nose, chin, one set of bare toes.

"It's Aunt Gayla having the Terrors, Dismé. Just go back to sleep." He turned and shuffled up the attic stairs to be greeted by Roger, Dismé's older brother. Mumble, mumble.

"Val?" A petulant whine from Father's room.

Voice from upstairs. "Go back to sleep, Cora."

Corable the Horrible, said a voice in Dismé's head. Cora Call-Her-Mother.

"But she's not my mother," Dismé had said a thousand times.

"Of course not. But you call her mother anyhow. All little girls need a mother." Papa, over and over.

Fresh howls of horror from Aunt Gayla's room.

"Can't anybody shut that old bitch up?" A slightly shriller whine, from the room that had once ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Booklist - Regina Schroeder

Tepper blends magic and science well this time, fits the moral into the story rather than forcing the story to fit the moral, and finishes with a startling and hopeful ending.

Publishers Weekly

Once again Tepper has created a mesmerizing story full of intriguing characters, resonant images and powerful themes.

School Library Journal - Christine C. Menefee

Tepper puts readers through a harrowing catalog of human evils, but this is the point-to name these evils, examine them, and discover how to overcome them. Disme, Nell, and their friends are resourceful and appealing heroes and their world is peopled with a very believable mix of ethically complicated beings.

Kirkus Reviews

Another consummately skillful, wise, sometimes hilarious, iconoclastic performance.

Author Blurb Ursula K. Le Guin
Sheri S. Tepper takes the mental risks that are the lifeblood of science fiction and all imaginative fiction.

Reader Reviews

go2yourlibrary

Another excellent book by a challenging author!

This book is a real mix of genres, depending on who is narrating. A ghost story, a fantasy, science fiction and a morality tale! What happens if a meteor really does strike the earth? Selected ...   Read More

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