In this compilation of fiction by Hoffman, one new story joins eight previously published pieces in a stirring juxtaposition of fantasy and human yearning.

Tess is killed by a Satanist cult, but her chosen god, Hermes, helps her contact her folks in "The Skeleton Key." Kirby wants a bioengineered pet skewlie in "Objects of Desire," and Grandma's bargain-hunting finds the silver-haired Vespa—but who's the pet? Someone in the CollectorCorps has programmed a trigger word into Sissy that leaves her vulnerable to her partner's wishes in "Mint Condition." "Night Life" revisits the fairy-tale mystery about the 12 dancing princesses. Janie's in-laws come to visit and threaten in "Entertaining Possibilities." And who hasn't thought about using the TV as babysitter—Hoffman offers an alien-influenced kid's show in "Toobychubbies."

TIME TRAVELERS, GHOSTS AND OTHER VISITORS is an eerie, page-turning treat that offers vignettes of human frailties. (May, 210 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper