Prophase: A Present Tale
by M. Street
Mitchel Street

"The grandest form of light is love. Life, love, and light are all the same."

In the opening of Prophase, a young woman gives birth to a child in the forest. It is the vernal equinox: "a neutral moment" and the start of something new. Next we meet Piper Walker, a likeable high school senior. With the death of her mother, Piper has had to grow up fast. While helping to parent her younger brother, Charlie, she has also buffered the anger of an abusive, drinking father. This over-burdened teen finds solace in her love of nature and music. She considers the latter her "first language." Piper also garners a deep connection with her elderly neighbor, Esther, and her mystical, Lynx Point Siamese, Jazz. As Piper deals with the expected drama of high school (i.e. strained friendships and heartbreak), an unusual chain of events brings about strange occurrences. Soon Piper realizes an unforeseen rebirth into a new destiny: One that is rooted in ancient history, ensconced with the conflict of enemy forces.

It is within this new dimension that the author demonstrates his true literary prowess. Here, he presents a world where emotion and thought are radiated in visuals of color and light. While adolescence is often a time for change, Street effectively highlights Piper's metamorphosis. Suddenly her looks are refined to perfection, her senses sharpened, and her abilities heightened. Training and guidance from other-worldly individuals, all enveloped in metallic auras, will help Piper understand her relative powers and potential. Here, rapid speed and intercontinental transport bring to mind the supernatural abilities of characters from the renowned Twilight series. Like Edward and Bella, love will follow Piper into this new realm.

Pared to its bare essence, Street has written a modern day, coming-of-age tale filled with all the drama, tears, and angst that typify the teenage years. What makes this work truly special is in the author's ability to intricately weave components of art, science, and nature into a fantastical and engaging read. Here the passionate blend appears a fine balance. While the book might seem geared for a young adult audience, Street's knowledge in crafting an interesting plot, as well as imaginative and well-developed characters within a fluid and beautifully descriptive narrative, will undoubtedly attract a broader range of readers.

Growing up in Wisconsin near the shores of Lake Michigan, it is evident that Street draws on much of his own background for his vivid storytelling. With an adoptive menagerie that has included dogs, cats, frogs, birds, and even butterflies, his own love of flora and fauna clearly plays out in Piper's character. Her natural affinity for the outdoors and bond to the forest outside her home directly speaks to the author's own familiarities.

There is a talented partnership in the pairing of John Robert's watercolors and Street's artful prose. As a practicing architect and self-taught artist, the illustrations in Prophase represent Robert's first complete collection. There is a lovely, ethereal quality about the work that is ideally matched to Street's painterly, literary style. Whether images are reflections of natural elements like cell division, spiraling waves, or a sleek jungle cat, or they correspond directly to a chapter's narrative, like the potent cups of tea shared by Piper and Esther and the jeweled dragonfly necklace that Street incorporates as a talisman to offer protection and serve as a mask between the two worlds, all are rendered with a delicate hand.

"Time suspended as I serenaded the oils, ridiculously trying to capture the flower's essence. I was smitten with color and contrast." Here Street eloquently voices Piper's contemplation of her newly discovered artistic talents, as Robert translates the exotic, tropical bird of paradise in gentle shades of orange, coral and green. In this world of light, color, and auras, life is simply entwined within a symphony of hues. Prophase is just the beginning. Hopefully in Metaphase and Anaphase, the coming installments of the Mitosis trilogy, Street will continue to grace readers with the intrinsic, literary beauty surrounding Piper's newly dimensional path.

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