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Jerome and the Seraph

cover artwork 2002 Judith Huey.


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Jerome and the Seraph

Robina Williams




Pan still plays to those who will hear him

"Whoops!" Brother Jerome clutched at the headstone on Father Aloysius’s grave in an attempt to steady himself on the icy ground, but on the frozen grass his feet slid from beneath him. He pitched forward, his head hit the headstone with a thud and he slumped down, blood trickling from the cut on his temple.

His fellow friars gave him a good send-off. The Provincial traveled up for the funeral, and Jerome was interred in the same grave as Aloysius.

Despite his annoyance at his untimely death, Jerome had to smile at the irony of it all: being laid to rest in the same grave that had killed him, with his name and dates engraved on the headstone on which he had banged his head, well, that capped it all. He wondered if Someone had a rather black sense of humor.

His death came as a complete surprise to him. So did the afterworld. There were no cherubs, no harps, no fluffy white clouds. There wasn’t anything, really. There wasn’t even anyone to talk to, although Aloysius popped along once, briefly, apologetically.

"Sorry about that, Jerry," he said.

Jerome grasped the old priest’s hand, noting with interest how solid it felt. "That’s all right, Al. These things happen." After all, he could hardly blame Aloysius for his death — not really. To be sure, if Aloysius’s grave hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have cracked his head on it. But then, if he’d had an ounce of common sense, he wouldn’t have gone out on an icy day in a pair of old sandals with slippery soles.

He said all this to Aloysius. But he could see that Aloysius still felt guilty: as he stood contritely before him, his kindly old face was flushed with embarrassment.

It was one thing, Aloysius said, to die as he had done, in the fullness of time, at the end of a long life, with the rest of the chaps gathered in prayer around his bed, saying a few last words to him and giving him the final blessing. It was quite another to die as Jerome had done. Jerome had been no age at all. He hadn’t expected death: he’d had no time to prepare for it. Fit as a fiddle one minute, he’d been a corpse the next.

Jerome told him not to worry, not to blame himself. It had been an unfortunate accident. One of them had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure, if Al’s grave hadn’t been where it was, then he’d still be back at the friary. Alive… with a broken leg maybe, but alive. But never mind: accidents happen.

Aloysius was still upset, though. He patted Jerome’s arm comfortingly, murmured sympathetically and disappeared.

Jerome hoped Aloysius would show up again, but he didn’t reappear, and he wondered where the old man had gone. He looked around but couldn’t see him anywhere. He prayed he wouldn’t be on his own forever; he liked a bit of company. He found it boring, being alone. He tried meditating to pass the time but soon gave it up. He had never been much good at it: his thoughts kept wandering off. Now they meandered back to the friary, and Jerome found himself reflecting once more on the irony of his situation.

It wasn’t the manner of his death that piqued him, but the fact that he was dead when others at the friary who were much, much older were still alive. It was quite annoying to have been outlived by the seriously old. He had been outlived by Father Angus, for instance. Angus was well into his nineties, and claimed to be looking forward to death. Each morning at breakfast, he would say without fail, "Well, one day nearer home."

Jerome smiled as he pictured the old friar, with his untidy beard and watery eyes. He remembered Father Peter had nicknamed him Angus Dei. Their guardian had told him he ought to do penance for making a joke like that. Well, Angus still wasn’t home, but Jerome was, and he wasn’t enjoying it much.

You spend most of your life looking forward to the next world, he thought, but when you get there, it’s a bit of a let-down. There isn’t much to be said for it at all. It’s rather disappointing.

He had expected something more... positive, something in the way of an experience. He hadn’t thought it would be like this. He’d been expecting… well, he didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been this. Is this all there is? he wondered.

As he was reflecting on how uneventful the afterlife was turning out to be, he remembered Charles Causley’s poem Eden Rock and wished he, too, could be invited over to the picnic with the blue tin cups, the sauce bottle and the little dog. That would be a real treat — not that he particularly liked dogs himself: he preferred cats, he always had done.

There was something about cats. Maybe it was the cool way they looked at you, as if weighing you up, appraising you, trying to decide whether you were worthy of them, worthy of their affection. You had to deserve cats. Sure, they’d take food from you when they were hungry — what animal wouldn’t? But they wouldn’t necessarily like you for having fed them. If they did like you, you had the feeling it was quite an honor for you.

That made him think of Leo, the ginger tomcat who lived at the friary. They’d always gotten along well. Leo had already been in residence when Jerome arrived, though no one could remember the cat’s arrival. No one knew where he’d come from. Jerome supposed that he must have turned up one day, found he liked the place and stayed on, fitting in so well that soon no one could remember a time when he hadn’t been around.

Father Angus, who had been at the friary for many years, had thought it a bit odd. Seeing the cat emerging from the shadows in the cloisters one day, he had suggested to Jerome that they had probably had a series of ginger toms and that no one had noticed one taking over from another. After Jerome had said that he thought that idea even odder, they’d concluded that their cat had lived for an unusually long time.

Now that his own life at the friary was over, Jerome was to find out that Leo had indeed lived for a long time — a very, very long time. He was also to find out the cat’s real name.

He was to find out that it was Quantum.



Chapter One

Jerome was scarcely able to believe his eyes when he saw the cat padding towards him. Choked with emotion, he bent down to stroke the creature as it nuzzled the hem of his habit, just as it had done back at the friary.

Finally he managed to say, "Hello, Leo, old chap! It’s great to see you again!" As the cat meowed a friendly greeting, he added sympathetically, "And what brought you here? Did you have an accident, like me?"

Expecting no answer beyond a further nudge and another meow, he nearly fell over when the cat replied indignantly, "No, of course not. Accidents like that don’t happen to me!"

While Jerome struggled to recover from the shock of hearing the cat speak, Leo added, "And the name’s Quantum, by the way, not Leo. You can call me Quant, if you like."

"Of course I can talk," he said in response to Jerome’s next question.

"But you didn’t talk on earth," Jerome pointed out.

Quant did not reply.

Jerome regretted his remark, for he felt that it showed insensitivity to draw attention to the fact that the cat was now as dead as he.

"Can all cats talk?" he asked Quant, adding carefully, "When they’re here, I mean?"

The cat considered his question before answering, "All the cats here can talk."

"And the other animals, too?"

Again there was a slight pause before Quant replied, "Yes, the animals here can talk."

Jerome thought back to their first meeting, when Brother Bernard, who helped out in the kitchen, had introduced them. They had hit it off immediately and had taken many companionable strolls together on fine days.

As the cook, and with Bernard’s quiet encouragement, Jerome had ensured that Leo was fed the friary scraps. This, unfortunately, was in the teeth of opposition from the guardian, Father Fidelis, who said he saw no reason why the cat shouldn’t feed itself off rats and mice in the outbuildings. As a result, Jerome’s relationship with the cat had been a friendly one, while his guardian, aiming a sly kick at the animal one morning when he’d thought no one was looking, had received a nasty scratch on his ankle.

One hot summer’s afternoon, Father Valentine, who had been an artist before joining the Order, had pointed out how apt the cat’s name was. Spotting Jerome sitting in the garden with the animal lying at his feet, he had compared the scene with Dürer’s painting of St Jerome in the wilderness with his lion: two Jeromes, both wearing robes, each with a ginger cat lying beside him. Admittedly the desert cat was bigger than their little Leo, but the friary garden was definitely something of a wilderness, too. Everyone had laughed at the comparison, including Jerome when they’d told him about it. They had all agreed that Leo was exactly the right name for the cat, for in the twilight his ginger fur softened to a tawny hue, and he certainly wasn’t a cat to be messed with.

Now, Jerome told the cat this little story, thinking that the creature would be amused. Quant, however, looked at him in the strangest way. He said nothing; he just looked.

Jerome had an uneasy feeling. A weird, fantastical thought sprang into his mind. The cat has been around for an awfully long time. But surely not! It can’t be possible....

And yet, as Jerome looked into the cat’s eyes, they seemed to grow bigger and brighter. And suddenly Jerome was no longer looking into the green, familiar, friendly eyes of the cat he knew. Great, golden eyes gleamed at him: eyes he hadn’t seen before, eyes that frightened him. He tried to look away but found he couldn’t. The baleful stare held him mesmerized.

The moment passed, and he found himself looking once more into the steady gaze of a small ginger tom. Then before he had time to recover himself, the animal’s expression softened and Quant did a parody of the Cheshire Cat and disappeared, leaving Jerome with the memory of an enigmatic, mocking, feline smile.

After that, Quant was away for a while. In his absence, Jerome found that he couldn’t get those glittering, feral eyes out of his mind. He asked himself what Quant’s past could have been. And he knew the answer as a vision of desert sands rolled out before him.

Quant had been the lion in the picture. He must have been. He had been the lion at the saint’s side, his namesake’s companion. That was what Quant’s past had been.

Then, remembering how the leonine eyes had changed back into the cat’s eyes he knew so well, Jerome corrected himself. No, not past, not in Quant’s case. Present. What Quant had been, he still was. His past wasn’t over and done with. It could be revisited at will. There was no then for the cat: there was just now.

Jerome sat down and tried calmly, carefully, to think this through. If Quant’s past and present are one, as they seem to be, then time means something different to him. Time is something he can move around in as he pleases — not like the road I was on. When I ran out of road, I ran out of life. Quant’s time isn’t like that. He’s still on the road, still in time. And he can go wherever he likes — backwards, forwards, sideways. Will Quant’s time ever end?

Even as Jerome asked himself the question, a further thought sprang into his mind. If Quant is still on the road of time, he can’t be dead. So what’s he doing here? When he is here, that is. And when he isn’t here, where is he? Is there a special place in the afterworld where cats spend most of their time?

Jerome longed for Quant’s return so that he could ask him. He was therefore delighted when he saw the creature padding towards him once again.

He went eagerly to meet him, and as he bent to stroke him asked, "Where have you been?"

"Have you been missing me, then?" The cat nuzzled the hem of his habit.

"Of course I have!" Jerome ran his hand along the smooth back. "Where have you been?"

"I’ve been in the friary, of course."

As he heard the answer, Jerome wondered why he hadn’t worked it out for himself. Of course Quant was in the friary! That’s where he lives. Lives, present tense. Quant nips back and forth as he chooses. The enormity of the idea swept over him like a tide.

"Do you want to come back with me?" the cat asked. "Only you’ll have to be quick, if you do."

"Me? Go back with you? To the friary?"

"Why not?"

"But I don’t know how to go back."

"I’ll show you."

"I really can go back?" Jerome asked incredulously.

"Sure thing. If you want to, that is."

"Of course I do. Er, why now?"

"It’s Father Angus’s funeral today. I thought you might like to go."

"Old Angus, dead?" Jerome asked.

"Hope so," the cat said. "He’s about to be buried. Well, are you coming or not? They’re already in the church."

Jerome took a deep breath. "Okay. What do I do?"

"Think gates."

"Gates? What sort of gate?"

"Any sort of gate. The gate you want to come out of."

"You mean we go through a gate?"

"Yup. You open a gate and go through it."

"So I’m to think of a gate? A gate at the friary?"

"Try the church," the cat said. "That’s where we’re going."

"But there aren’t any gates in the church," Jerome objected.

"There don’t need to be. There don’t need to be actual gates. You make your own gate. Where do you want to come out?"

As Jerome still looked confused, the cat said, "Do you remember the big pillar at the back of the church?"

"The one by the font?"

"That’s it," Quant said. "Think of that. Concentrate on it."

Jerome was staring fixedly ahead of him. "I think I’ve got it."

"Okay," said the cat. "Now, picture a gate in the pillar. Any kind of gate… a simple gate. And keep it in your mind. Look at it. Look hard at it. Don’t let it go. Keep looking."

"I’m looking," Jerome said. "I can see the gate. Um, how do we get through it? I mean, how do we open it?"

"That’s where the looking comes in."

"How can looking open a gate?" Jerome asked, frowning with the effort of concentration.

"Looking at something alters it. Looking moves particles around."

"Shoves them to one side, you mean? Makes a gateway in them?"

"Something like that," the cat said. "In simple terms, yes. Keep your mind fixed on the pillar now. Don’t lose it."

"I’m looking at the pillar. I’m looking at the gate in the pillar." Jerome stared ahead intently.

"Good!" Quant said as he stepped forward. "Now follow me."

Jerome followed him hurriedly.

"Are you still thinking gates?" he heard the cat say before he disappeared.

Jerome didn’t answer, for suddenly the atmosphere thinned, his ears popped, he had an impression of cold stone rushing past, and he found himself standing in front of the pillar beside the font at the back of the friary church.

Jerome gasped with shock and, forgetting he had no substance, stretched out a hand to the font to steady himself. Ahead of him the nave of the church was filled with friars and parishioners, and directly in front of him lay Father Angus’s coffin on its trolley, with a crucifix and a simple wreath in the form of a cross laid on it.

He felt something rub up against the hem of his habit. He glanced down to find Quant looking at him reassuringly. Jerome was glad the cat was still with him. He didn’t feel he could cope without him. He felt as if his heart was about to beat its way out of his chest, wondered briefly about this and realized it was probably impossible, and managed to calm himself with a few deep breaths.

When he felt more settled, he looked around and saw Aloysius standing by the door, watching him. Aloysius waved and Jerome shakily waved back. Wondering who else might be among the congregation, he turned to look down the body of the nave. Seated in the pews among the parishioners there seemed to be an unusually large number of friars. Jerome tried to make out who they were, but most had their hoods pulled up.

As he stared curiously at them, Quant, as if reading his mind, nudged him and padded silently towards a side aisle. Jerome obediently followed, having a nasty feeling as he did that he might be gliding. One or two of the parishioners noticed the cat, smiled and drew their neighbor’s attention to the animal. Jerome noticed that, although he was close behind the cat, no one seemed to see him. It was as if he wasn’t there. Well, I’m not here, am I? Not really, I mean.

He reached out experimentally to the hymn-books piled on the side table and saw his hand pass through them. Shaken, he followed the cat past rows of pews, towards the chapel. As he passed, some of the robed figures turned to glance at him. He was shocked to find that several of them were friars whose own funerals he had attended. Indeed, he had last seen his old friends lying pale and cold as marble on their deathbed; he had sat with them, keeping them company for a while, praying over their lifeless bodies and remembering times past. Now those same friars nodded to him in recognition. Though bewildered, he greeted them as he moved along. One or two faces — heavily bearded, in the old style — that turned briefly towards him he didn’t know, and he wondered how long they had been dead. He didn’t understand this time shift, and resolved to ask Quant about it later.

Quant led him into the chapel. Jerome stepped inside and sat down clumsily on a chair in front of the small altar. When he looked down, he found the cat had gone. For the time being, Jerome was on his own. He remained sitting in the chapel, trying to pull himself together as the Requiem Mass in the main body of the church progressed.

As the final benediction was given, he crossed himself, closed his eyes and breathed deeply. When he opened his eyes again, he saw Aloysius sitting beside him. Aloysius nodded towards the nave, and Jerome saw the coffin being taken down the central aisle. Behind it, the Provincial led his friars in procession.

Aloysius beckoned Jerome to follow. He led him along the side aisle, and together they joined the line of their fellow friars making their way across the churchyard to the secluded graveyard beyond. This was the English Province’s private cemetery — separate from the parish graveyard — in which all the friars, from the day they took their final vows, knew they would one day be laid to rest.

As they passed their own grave, Aloysius glanced apologetically at Jerome. Then they moved to the new grave dug on the far side of the old yew tree. It seemed to Jerome that a larger number of robed figures were gathered here than he had been aware of in the church. He felt emotional, almost tearful, as he looked at the scene: the living and the dead come together to pay tribute to their fellow friar, the living grouped at the front around their Provincial, the dead crowding behind them and around the grave. As the living brethren stepped forward to sprinkle the coffin with holy water, the dead friars pressed forward also and stretched out their hands in blessing.

Then the funeral service was over. The Provincial turned to have a word with Father Valentine, who had been standing on his right, and Jerome felt a familiar nudge against the hem of his habit. He looked down to find Quant beside him once more. The cat nuzzled him and moved off. Jerome glanced towards where Aloysius had been standing, but he was no longer there. Only the living chatted among themselves.

Jerome followed Quant around the yew tree. At the far side, the cat stopped and stared intently at the bark. Jerome had the wit to do the same, and hastily pictured a gate. The air thinned, his ears popped and he was back in the afterworld.

"Well," Quant said, "that went all right, didn’t it?"

Jerome grinned with relief. "I did it!"

"You did."

"Can we have another go soon?" Jerome asked, knowing he sounded as if he were asking for another go at the coconut shy.

The cat gave a meowing laugh. "Have a go whenever you like."

"What? On my own? You mean, without you?"

"Why not?" Quant replied. "You know how to do it now."

"But I might get stuck, on my own. Where’d I be then?"

Quant laughed again. "Well, that would depend, wouldn’t it, on where you were heading?"

"But I might get stuck in a tree," Jerome said worriedly, remembering the yew he had gone through.

"Well, there are some very nice tree nymphs around," Quant said.

Jerome looked hard at him. "You’re joking, aren’t you?"

The cat gave a meow of sheer fun.

"If I do get stuck," Jerome said pleadingly, "you’ll come and rescue me, won’t you?"

Quant gave his mocking smile but said nothing.

"Hang on!" Jerome went on quickly, afraid that Quant might do his Cheshire Cat routine again. "All right, I’ll have a go on my own. But you’ll keep an eye on me, won’t you? You will, won’t you? I mean, you won’t let me get stuck and just leave me there?"

The cat’s smile widened.

"You won’t, will you?" Jerome persisted anxiously.

"Relax!" the cat said.

"It’s all very well for you to say relax. It’s easy for you. You know how to do it."

"You know how to do it."

Unconvinced, Jerome looked pleadingly at the cat.

Quant laughed again, and Jerome was certain he was about to disappear. "If I get stuck, you’ll come and get me out? You promise?"

The cat meowed and vanished.

Despite Quant’s reassurance, Jerome didn’t feel at all confident about his ability to go around opening gates into the world he had recently left. The cat had made it look simple, but that was the mark of a professional. Then Jerome remembered his fellow deceased brethren whom he had seen at Father Angus’s funeral. They’d been able to open gates and go through them. They could go back and forth: they’d got the knack. He wondered why he hadn’t seen them in the afterworld. So far he had seen only Aloysius, and he was sure that was because Aloysius had wanted to say sorry to him. It occurred to him that, just as opening gates into and out of the afterworld was a knack, so seeing people in the afterworld might also be a knack. It was a technique… a technique of looking. Looking’s the key.

If he looked hard enough, he might be able to go places; he might be able to see people and things. There could be all sorts around him. There could be anything! He had a whole new world to explore.

I need to get the hang of this looking. I must learn to concentrate so hard I can move molecules apart, make spaces to go through, spaces to see through. After all, it’s not as if I’ve got much else to do. Well, I’ve nothing else to do, actually.

Jerome decided to practice. He tried to visualize a simple gate. A small, plain gate came into his mind. It had to lead somewhere, open into some place. Where did he want to go?

Recalling his trip with Quant, he thought he would like to try to return to the friary. It would be nice to have a look around the old place again. He revisited the building in his memory, and for his gateway in selected the newel post of the main staircase. It was a thick, shining column of mahogany, intricately carved with fruit and foliage. He remembered it well, and in its roundness it was reassuringly similar in shape to the pillar Quant had taken him through in the church.

He fixed it in his mind, then focused his thoughts on the task of superimposing the gate onto it. He pictured the gate, then saw it opening and the particles of matter around it parting. But already his concentration was going, and the image of the gate faded from his mind.

He began again. He frowned with the deepest concentration he could muster. A moment later he felt the atmosphere thin. He had the impression of surging forward. His ears popped. He panicked, and found himself wedged firmly behind a wooden bunch of grapes. With horror, he realized he was stuck inside the newel post. He raised his fists and beat on the wood. Still he remained imprisoned. He tried to kick his way out.

Finally, frantically, he screamed, "Quant! Quant!"

He felt a movement beside him, of something brushing past. Then, through the fruit and foliage, he saw the cat looking at him from the hallway of the friary. His ears popped again, and he was out in the hallway himself. Trembling, he sank onto the staircase. Quant jumped nimbly onto an adjoining step and sat beside him.

"My God!" Jerome quavered.

Quant raised his eyebrows but said nothing.

"Well, thanks for getting me out."

"You’re welcome," the cat replied.

"My God!" Jerome repeated. He was breathing heavily and still shaking. "My God!"

"So you keep saying," Quant remarked.

"Well, it was a shock," Jerome said defensively. "Can we go back now?"

"You’ve only just got here."

There was a clattering from along the corridor. It came from the direction of the kitchen. Jerome panicked again. "Someone’s coming!"

"Relax. It’s only Iggy with the dinner trolley."

"He’ll see me," Jerome whispered.

"No, he won’t," Quant assured him. "He’ll see me."

Sure enough, a robed figure pushing a rattling trolley approached, gave the cat a friendly smile, told him it would be his dinnertime soon, walked past Jerome and continued towards the dining room at the end of the corridor. As the friar and his trolley disappeared through a doorway, Jerome turned to Quant to ask him about his curious ability to live simultaneously in two worlds and to be at home in each, but Quant was quietly washing his face. Jerome thought it better to leave his question unasked. Instead, he said, "Is that the new cook?"

Quant paused with his paw in the air. He nodded. "Yes. Ignatius took over from you in the kitchen. He’s a nice chap. He’s not long been in the Order." He looked down the corridor towards the dining room. "Well, they’re at lunch now. Do you want a look around, seeing as you’re here?"

Jerome shook his head. "I want to go back, please."

"You do? Are you sure?"

Jerome nodded.

"Righty-ho!" the cat said. "If that’s what you want. Anything to oblige." He stood, yawned and stretched. Then he went daintily down the stairs and stood by the newel post. "We might as well go back the way we came." He turned to Jerome, who joined him at the foot of the staircase.

Jerome took a few deep breaths as he faced the grapes once again. He felt quite trembly. He wasn’t sure that he was cut out for this sort of thing. He wanted to get back now. In the afterworld he had thought longingly of his old home, but now he felt uneasy, nervous, out of his element. He didn’t feel he belonged here. It wasn’t his home any longer. In some mysterious way, it was still Quant’s home, but it wasn’t his.

It’s like moving house, he thought. Once you’ve moved out, it’s not your house anymore. You can go back, but only to visit. He wanted to be back in his new home. This wasn’t his world now. "Ready!" he said eagerly.

His return journey was a lot easier than the outgoing journey had been. Jerome stared hard at the newel post, felt his ears pop, and then he found himself in the afterworld, with Quant in front of him.

"We’re back!" he shouted excitedly, looking about him. He turned to thank the cat, but Quant was no longer there. Jerome presumed that he had already returned to the friary, and he marveled again at the cat’s extraordinary ability to slip from one world to another, from one state to another, and to be equally at home in both.

He’s dead and alive. Quant can come and go between death and life as he pleases. He just opens a gate and goes through it.

Jerome had always respected the cat back in his days at the friary. Now he regarded the creature with awe. And he felt profoundly grateful to him. Without Quant, he would still have been trapped behind a bunch of wooden grapes. It didn’t bear thinking about.





Author Bio

Robina lives in the U.K. She has an M.A. in Modern Languages from Oxford University, and an M.Phil. pure research degree in English Literature from Liverpool University. She has been a schoolteacher, a college lecturer, a secretary, and a features writer for magazines and newspapers.

She thought that Schrödinger's Cat--a cat that is both alive and dead at the same time--would be a useful character for fantasy novels. Jerome and the Seraph, the first book in her Quantum Cat series, was published in trade paperback by Twilight Times Books in 2004. Angelos was published in 2006, and Gaea will be out in print in 2009. Robina is currently writing the fourth book in the series.

TTB titles: Angelos
Jerome and the Seraph

Author web site.




Jerome and the Seraph Copyright © 2002. Robina Williams. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.


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  Author News

I hope you'll visit my website,, to read about Jerome and the Seraph and its sequel Angelos, and also to read my article "Paintings as Inspiration." Paintings feature in the plots of my stories. In Jerome and the Seraph, a sighting of Spencer Stanhope's Thoughts of the Past causes the Father Guardian to fear that his sins are about to find him out.

In Angelos, Father Aidan, lost in a spiritual desert, finds that a scapegoat and an ibex and a ray of sunlight in a Pre-Raphaelite painting guide him back to the path he'd lost sight of and despaired of ever seeing again. And that path leads to one of the twentieth century's most striking images -- Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross.

I hope you'll read and enjoy my books.

~ Robina ~

Robina Williams, author of Angelos, Jerome and the Seraph and Gaea has an author interview with SpecFicWorld.



Top Rating of 10 from Harriet Klausner
Slipping on the icy ground of the cemetery, Brother Jerome smacks his head against the gravestone of Father Aloysius. His peers gave him a nice funeral but ironically buried him at the site in which he died.

When he first died, he briefly meets Aloysius who apologizes to Jerry, but that seem like a lifetime ago as Jerome finds the afterworld is void of anyone, even angels, except for Leo the friary cat, who is alive and well back in his former residence. Jerome is confused as there are no cherubs or angels with harps. Leo explains to Jerome that his real name is Quantum, but he can call him Quant and that it is easy to cross between the land of the living and the dead, which is why he resides here and at the friary. Simply Jerome must modify his belief system so that he can see and soon other spirits and doors to dimensions will be there. Of course coordinates are critical or else one can become the star of a painting or a branch of a tree.

JEROME AND THE SERAPH is a simple entertaining book that ironically connects complex topics (the afterlife, mythology, and quantum physics) into a wonderful fantasy that hooks readers from the moment Al and Jerry exchange a few words. The tale never lets go until Brother Jerome completes his journeys, though Quant steals the show. Fans who appreciate an amusing with serious undertone adventure tale will appreciate Jerome Through the Looking Glass guided by Quant the Cheshire cat.

Reviewed by Harriet Klausner for MBR Bookwatch.

It had struck Ignatius during his time in the Order that the very people who might have expected to welcome the angel of death—for he was taking them home, after all—were no more anxious than the rest of the population to end their earthly life. The professionals were no keener to meet their Maker than the rest of His creatures appeared to be.

Jerome and the Seraph, an absolutely delightful novel by Robina Williams, opens with the fatal freak accident of one such "professional," Brother Jerome. Jerome is an affable, slightly clumsy sort—he kills himself when he slips and hits his head on a deceased fellow brother's headstone in the cemetery of their modern-day friary—who finds the adjustment to the Afterlife a bit of a challenge. Not that he's especially bitter over his unexpected demise—he gets over that almost immediately—but he finds it a bit of a letdown, and isn't sure he can ever get a handle on all the seemingly new "rules" governing his physical—or more properly spiritual?—nature.

As it turns out here, though, he had nothing to worry about; not when he's being watched over by one of his best friends on earth, a little ginger tomcat called Leo, who now prefers to be called "Quant" and who seems able to occupy the material and spiritual worlds—and is equally at home in both. Eventually, Jerome comes to understand that one is ever really "dead;" those who have passed on can learn to see and talk to all their own deceased friends and, indeed, can learn to travel "back," and even be seen—sometimes, at least—by the living. This enables Jerome to make contact with some of his old friends at the friary, and involve himself in their rather nosy "investigation" of what promises to be a juicy little (sex?) scandal involving the Guardian of their friary, the ironically-named Fidelus.

While the story is whimsical and light, the undertones are quite profound. The author endorses the notion that, while there may be only one "Truth" there can be many different (and valid) perspectives. The central message here, that there is indeed One Lord of All who sends His angels—in this case, a Seraph in the form of a little cat—to help those in need of it, is a gentle and beautiful one which should be almost universally embraced, regardless of one's specific approach to spirituality.

One might assume that a book dealing with the Afterlife and touching on such disparate and daunting subjects as physics, Greek mythology, classical painting and literature, architecture, as well as Christian theology would be a bit obscure and ponderous to get through—one could not possibly be more wrong! This book is written with such easy style and populated by such congenial and appealingly human characters that it is impossible not to finish once started. The reader need not possess even a passing acquaintance with any of the disciplines mentioned above to enjoy it; besides, the author helpfully includes an addendum featuring a short discussion of some of her references, which can only enhance the experience of the uninitiated.

Jerome and the Seraph is utterly captivating from beginning to end, the kind of book that leaves the reader wanting more; a good thing, in this case, since Ms. Williams has already completed a sequel and plans this to be the first installment of a trilogy.

While we earthly creatures may still not be all that eager to greet what comes after this life, we can approach it with a little less trepidation if we can believe that we'll be accompanied by our own powerful and benevolent little cat.

Reviewed by Thomas Root III, author of The Elixir.

Top Rating of 10 from Dallas Franklin
"Jerome And The Seraph is a delight to read! I was drawn into the story immediately and couldn't put it away, reading it in one sitting. When a book captures your attention this rapidly and keeps your curiosity piqued throughout, you know the price you pay for it is well worth it. And this fantasy story is certainly every bit worth the $4.50!

Robina Williams, author of the book has wonderful descriptive power in not only bringing the characters to life, but conjures up images of the scenes whether of this world or other worlds in a believable manner. You never feel like part of the book takes place in the Spirit world because she weaves in and out of both worlds so easily. Part of the story even brings you into a mythological world that blends in with the intricacies of all worlds.

The story opens up with Brother Jerome, who accidentally dies in a fall when he strikes his head against a headstone in the friary cemetery. Life in the Spirit world isn't at all what he expected as he wonders why he's alone. Shortly afterwards he's visited by Leo, a cat he loved and cared for while living in the Order. Jerome comes to realize that Leo, who prefers to be called Quant, seems to be able to travel into the dead and not-dead world at will.

Quant teaches Jerome how to use his own perspective and focus in doing the same and although he often gets stuck in trees, and once behind the grapes of a stairway post, with practice he's able to visit his friends in the living world too. Some of his fellow friars begin to see and communicate with him, adding mystery to the story. It becomes several stories intertwined into one as the story unfolds but you're never lost as often happens when writers use this technique.

We also get to know the other Brothers and Guardian of the Order that shows their human frailties in their struggle with keeping their vows. Each of them deal with the temptations in their own personal way, giving humanity to the inner world we all deal with on a daily basis. The story also shows us how our thought patterns and assumptions aren't always the way things really are.

Although in the beginning I felt the main character was Jerome (Jerry), you soon discover that the mystical and mysterious cat, Quant is truly the character that keeps the story intriguing.

Robina expertly weaves her knowledge and love of Pre-Raphaelite art, mythology and quantum physics without one needing prior knowledge of either to realize its impact on the story. I really loved how she brought the understanding of linear time and simultaneous time into layman's terms, which made the story all the more interesting and awe-inspiring.

Robina is working on a sequel to Jerome And The Seraph and I'm already looking forward to its completion. I recommend this story highly and give it a top rating of 10."

Reviewed by Dallas Franklin for Sell Writing Online.

Brother Jerome slips in the graveyard, hitting his head with a thud. Later he finds himself in a rather strange place accompanied by a dear old friend that he knows is deceased. The situation is most abstruse as there are no cherubs, no angels, no fluffy clouds- none of his expectations of beyond; he soon accedes to his irreversible situation. His greatest surprise is the arrival of his beloved cat, Leo in the afterworld. Leo, who we learn is actually Quant, the cat/lion alter ego, it seems, can travel at will between the two worlds being both alive and dead.

Jerome’s ingrained beliefs are challenged, as he learns the answers to life long spiritual questions. He comes face to face with the hound of Heaven as the trill of Pan’s flute fills the air.

Brother Jerome and his cohorts, both living and dead are most enchanting characters. Full of human frailties and believable character flaws, they charm the reader with their humorous encounters and escapades.

The author makes reference to several nineteenth century paintings including St. Jerome in the Wilderness, adding a touch of refinement and artistic interest to the book. Amusing, entertaining and charming, Robina Williams has a winner with her bumbling friar and his amazing ginger.

The author lives in north-west England and has an M.A in Modern Languages. This book is the first in the Quantum cat series; she has finished her second book Angelos and is working on the third.

Highly recommended, this reviewer looks forward to the next book in the series.

Reviewed by Shirley Roe for Allbooks Reviews and

"A modest and kindly friar dies and goes - somewhere. Where he is not sure, because no one else is there. It isn't "easy being dead," he discovers. No one to ask. No one to talk to. Except a cat, who comes and goes and who looks exactly like the ginger tom who silently patrolled the friary that Brother Jerome used to call home. But in the new place, erstwhile Leo sports a new name: Quantum. Now he can talk and he knows things - things backwards and forwards and up and down - and he manages all past and present time zones simultaneously. Brother Jerome develops a headache: He cannot understand who? what? where? when? how? why?

Quantum is patient though a trifle condescending at times. This is understandable, for, like all cats, Quantum seems to know all the answers to whatever, wherever, whenever, however, whoever, and whyever. When Jerome fails to sufficiently understand the principles of gate-making and particle dispersion that will allow him to trip back to the friary for a little human-type companionship, albeit a trifle unilateral and ghostly in rapport, and ends up fused with an oak tree, like unto a pagan dryad, Quantum is Mystery Cat on the Spot to extricate him. After several lessons in the art of focusing, concentrating, looking, seeing extraterrestrially, and holding on to his new mental dimension, Jerome becomes more adept and less of "an unguided missile" traveller who freaks out still-earthbound-but-already-on-the-path fellow friars by peeking out of portraits and popping out of headstones.

There are mysteries at the friary, and Brother Jerome does his bit to solve them. The devil is in the details, but Jerome has one "hellava cat" to assist him. Most everyone gets in on the act, from Pagan Pan to Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt. The brothers, including the "beyond-the-grave branch," help thread the tapestry: Bernie, Iggy, Semper Fidelis, Angus Dei, Valentine, Eggy, Peter, Olly, and Al. Golden-eyed Quantum knows them all and knows how to target, select, and weave continuously. Is he autonomous or not? For a cat, he also seems to get along respectfully well with The Hound of Heaven.

Amid a plethora of reading material that shows man brutally subjugating matter, churning titanic waves in the environment, solving absurdly clever puzzles, and moving mountains to make love ring true, who would have thought such a seraphically smug cat could represent such basic, intelligent change in the interests of spiritual consummation? Robina Williams has tackled the oldest and most troubling question known to thinking and spiritually concerned humans. JEROME AND THE SERAPH is a charming and deceptively simple story, filled with delightful puns and serenely sly humor. It is a book to cherish."

Reviewed by Pat H. Fredeman, author of Paradise Regained.

"Like all good mysteries, Jerome And The Seraphim by Robina Williams opens with a death. As it turns out, there is no mystery about the death itself--it is one of those mortifyingly embarrassing mishaps--but rather the mystery concerns a certain ginger tom named Leo. Well, perhaps his name is Leo. The main character's name is definitely Brother Jerome, although he dies in the first sentence of the story. This is where things start to get a little strange.

"Jerome's death came as a surprise. So did the afterworld. There were no cherubs, no harps, no fluffy white clouds. There wasn't anything, really. There wasn't even anyone to talk to..."

Proving the 'be careful what you wish for' rule possesses no expiration date (not even when you yourself expire), Brother Jerome discovers the friary's ginger tom, Leo, has an alter ego in Quantum, the talking cat who can travel through various dimensions of space and time. As anyone who has followed the adventures of Alice in Wonderland can tell you that getting the straight dope from a talking cat is no small matter, and Brother Jerome has some misadventures before he irons out some of the wrinkles in this time-space travel thing. Part Cheshire cat, part Schodinger's cat, Quantum drags the befuddled Brother Jerome through a number of adventures and dimensions (I found myself wondering how Brother Caedfal would fare in inter-dimensional travel, but that would be a different story).

It turns out to be a rather long strange trip, indeed, but if the reader enjoys cats and quantum physics, or stories about monks, or Pre-Raphaelite painting, or Wilkie Collins, or Saint Jerome...well, then, the reader will enjoy this story, though it will confirm all your worst suspicions about where cats go and exactly how they get there."

Reviewed by Kestrell for

"Brother Jerome had no idea that his walk that day would turn out to be fatal. He hits his head on another friar's tombstone and is then buried in the same grave. Little does he know, that being dead is only the start of his adventure.

The afterworld is not entirely as he expected, there are no harps, no angels flying around. At first there is just him and a cat, a cat that seems remarkably like the one that used to frequent the friary when he was alive. In fact it is the same cat, but how could it be there and here at the same time?

As the cat explains, it's all a matter of seeing. It takes a while, but eventually Jerome gets the hang of things, the ability to see the other spirits and to travel between dimensions.

The book is a well written story, with a light hearted look at quantum theory that you don't need a degree in physics to understand. The characters are all well drawn and you feel for poor Jerome on his first attempts at inter-dimensional travel, where he gets stuck inside a pillar, a tree and a painting respectively.

Paintings, classical mythology and architecture all play bit parts, but the cat is the star of the show. Ms. Williams has blended every feature together so effortlessly, you wonder why you never saw the connections between them before."

Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of Writing the Dream available from Ms. Gisby is also editor of Twisted Tales webzine.

"Fantasy lovers - if you enjoy a good story that takes a different slant on things, Jerome and the Seraph is for you. Especially, if you are also a cat lover.

Brother Jerome passes from life at a friary into the afterworld and, here, meets several old friends. Among them, a cat named Quant that looks surprisingly like Leo, the friary cat. Quant proves a friend in more ways than would be expected, in particular, when Jerome begins to travel.

Talented author, Ms Robina Williams, writes with clever, sly good humor as she takes us back and forth through the veil that separates the here and the hereafter. Her characters are very human in their curiosity and weaknesses and the paths from both sides of this veil meet and cross in what is a story that will lighten your heart and brighten your day.

Things are not what they seem is one lesson Jerome and the reader will learn together as he takes those first tentative steps in a new life. I highly recommend this as a book written with warmth and friendly looks at the beliefs we live with."

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, Reviewer for eBook Reviews Weekly.

While visiting the grave of Father Aloysius, Brother Jerome finds himself quickly befallen tohis own tragic death and facing the afterworld, a place far from what he had expected. He soon discovered it was a place of loneliness with no one to talk to but himself until an old friend shows up. A feline, a cat he'd called Leo in his earthly form.

Yet Leo was no ordinary cat as Brother Jerome soon learns. The cat could talk and he wanted Brother Jerome to know his real name. Quantum or as he preferred to be called, Quant. Yet not only could the cat called Quant talk, he could travel back and forth through time and as Brother Jerome discovered, Quant was not dead.

When Quant begins to show Brother Jerome how to travel back and forth from the afterworld to present earth, the friar finds himself intrigued with traveling until things don't go well and he finds himself stuck in several awkward and embarrassing positions. Soon however Brother Jerome begins to find his knack for traveling and is surprised to learn that two of his other brothers are able to see him.

Then Brother Jerome begins to take trips to places he hadn't planned on going and finding his way to the other brothers who have long since passed on in the afterworld, causing Quant to become concerned. Through this new profound knowledge he also learns the afterworld is more than what is really seems and he must test his faith in god and all that he knows of his previous life.

The death of a friar, a talking cat, an afterworld far from what one might imagine it to be like, Author Robina Williams brings them all together in a fantasy readers will surely find to be as open-minded as the characters of Jerome and the Seraph.

Reviewed by Shyan Marie © August 2004 for Writers and Readers Network.

"Robina Williams has a contemplative tale about a friary in which brother Jerome is newly dead and trying to learn how to live with it. Brother Ignatius is a great cook who never seems to eat his own food, brother Valentine an artist, and Father Fidelis is bothered by a new arrival to the Parish, a woman from his past. There’s also the other dead friars who usually stay in their part of heaven and a strange cat that moves easily from heavenly friary and the earthly one, helping Brother Jerome escape from a tree, a painting, and a crystal ball. Jerome and the Seraph (trade from Twilight Times Books) is a quiet book that matches the contemplative life of the Friars. Very calming."

Reviewed by Henry L. Lazarus for University City Review and the newsletter of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.




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