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February 1, 2011 > Book Review: Sanctuary, a world of gargoyles and fairies

Book Review: Sanctuary, a world of gargoyles and fairies

"Sanctuary" by S.C. Williams opens readers' eyes to the possibility of a strange, secret world parallel to our everyday lives

First in fantasy story trilogy takes readers to chaotic world of gargoyles, fairies.

A good deed lands an unsuspecting suburban family on a collision course with a parallel universe in local author S.C. Williams' "Sanctuary," the first book of her forthcoming three-part fantasy series.

The family resides in the Hayward Hills and learns that no good deed goes unpunished. They inadvertently break a law by rescuing a fallen baby gargoyle one dark and rainy night and soon encounter a chaotic world of gargoyles, fairies, dragons and elves. One by one, the teenage children follow their mother, Christina, into the strange parallel universe where they morph into fairies and gargoyles. Each member of the family becomes a hapless pawn of a mysterious group known as The Others. It is only then that the family learns why this universe exists.

The family's home (the author's own home set among the canyons) becomes a sanctuary for all in the fantasy realm and they soon realize humans are not so simple after all. When the two teenage children become trapped in this fantasy world, they discover they cannot leave without first striking a deal with The Others.

"I believe there is a void in the literary world where the 'Harry Potter' series ended," Williams points out. "People who never before tried to read fantasy did so, and are hungry for more."

While Williams emphasizes the fictional storyline, she wants her young readers to realize we live our daily lives in the midst of a strange, nebulous other world. While the real world co-exists with this parallel universe, there are times when the two collide. "Sanctuary" tells the story of what happens on impact and how a family of humans must confront this new world around them.

Similar to the popular "Harry Potter" and "Percy Jackson" books and movies, readers of all ages with an interest in fantasy will fall in love with "Sanctuary's" enchanting and mythical world with its own rules and norms through which Williams' characters skillfully negotiate their way. The author does not rely on the disingenuous device of "magically rescuing" them.

"I was born in Hayward and belong to what is perhaps the last generation that spent summers roaming and exploring the canyons in the Hayward Hills, the setting for "Sanctuary," explained author Stephanie C. Williams who recalls leaving in the morning without a care in the world other than to return home in time for dinner. "The canyons, of which I have such fond and vivid memories, exert a draw and I felt I had to write about them."

"Seven years ago I began writing manuscripts and illustrating them with no real plan. Friends and family persuaded me to publish and share my fantasies and dreams with the rest of the world. 'Mad Lavender' and 'Star Man Heart Star Girl,' taken from a section of the sidewalk of the same name at Cal State University East Bay, are the second and third books in the trilogy. The locations in all three exist in the Bay Area. A fourth book, 'Annihilation by Appointment Only,' is in the pipeline. It has been great fun to write and share," says Williams appreciatively.

"In my senior year at Moreau, unbeknownst to me, my art teacher contacted Pepperdine which offered me a one-year scholarship to study art. I was persuaded to read Urban Planning as a "safer" alternative; urban design includes much graphic design. So, I spent my first career as a transportation planner for the Sacramento Regional Transit District, Caltrans and the City of Union City before meeting my husband, Curtis, and becoming a print buyer and purchasing manager in Silicon Valley and settling in Newark. After seven years, my husband expanded his accounting practice and we purchased a retiring accountant's business in Hayward and eventually moved back. I never dreamed I'd return," she reflected.

According to Williams' personal experiences and observations, passions never die; people should indulge their enthusiasm for something they feel because it will return later with even greater intensity and demand attention.

Williams received an emphasis in graphics from University of California, Davis and remains active in the arts and craft communities both showing, selling and teaching art. She also creates jewelry and beaded tapestry designs.

Fans of "Sanctuary" and fantasy can look forward to "Mad Lavender" and "Star Man Heat Star Girl," which Williams has already written and illustrated, starting next year.

"Sanctuary" (ISBN 1453720634) is available at The Book Shop, 1007 B Street, Hayward and online at

For more information, contact Stephanie C. Williams at

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