A fantasy novel by James P. Blaylock. (Ace Books, 1999, ISBN 0-441-00756-2).
The tale of Phil Ainsworth, freelance photographer, who is living comfortably by himself in southern California, when a series of strange happenings impinge upon his life. Fist, he receives a phone call informing him that his sister has died, leaving him in custody of his ten-year-old niece Betsy. It just so happens that that same night, the once-in-a-decade rainy season comes into full bloom, filling the usually dry wells and pools. The water that usually lies hidden deep underground comes to the surface, bringing dark and mysterious objects with it.
The story flips back and forth between the modern day and the late 1800s, when a leader of a minor religious sect is sacrificing his dying daughter into one of the wells, in order to preserve her memories into one of the wells' crystals. He losses the crystal, but is determined to wait as long as necessary to get it back. Betsy rediscovers the crystal, and Betsy, Phil, and some other, less sane characters get involved in his struggle daughter's memory back.
Not a bad book, but not up to Blaylock's usual standards. This looks like an early draft of what one hopes for in a Blaylock book; the story is a bit thin, the characters aren't as well developed, and the relationships between the characters are even worse. The wells and pools don't hold the traditional Blaylockian 'hauntingly mysterious essence' nearly as well as the ocean has in previous books. Better to read Winter Tides or The Paper Grail.