First in the projected Destiny's Children trilogy, COALESCENT (4) tells the story of George Poole, a man who discovers a twin sister he never knew. Rosa was raised in Rome, part of a religious sect known only as the Order. The Order lives secretly underground and functions with a queen who has her own agenda—she may hold the future of humanity, or its destruction. This is a deft mix of history and futuristic thriller, moving back and forth between ancient and modern Rome. Stephen Baxter authentically captures both George's horror at what he finds in Rome and the voices of the women of the Order. The reader joins a creepy descent from seeming normalcy to otherworldly psychological terror. (Dec., 485 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum