Saturday, May 18, 2013


Pages: 386
Date: 17/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: Reincarnationist Series # 5
          Received from Atria
          Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

Blurb from the author’s site:
"A gothic tale about Victor Hugo's long-buried secrets
and the lengths we go to for love...
In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo's beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo's transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.

Or so it has been believed...

Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L'Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island's mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on the Isle of Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles, and hidden caves.

But the man who's invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she'll help him discover something quite different—transcripts of Hugo's lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find.

But what neither Jac or Theo anticipate is that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake."

Before I start on my thoughts about this book I should probably point out that I only read one previous title in this series: The Reincarnationist.  Although it is quite possible that I missed connections because I didn’t read all the previous books, I can safely say that I didn’t feel as if I was missing out on vital information. While I can’t be sure that reading all the books in sequence wouldn’t have increased my enjoyment of this book, I can safely say that this book can be read and is very enjoyable as a stand-alone title.

“Every story begins with a tremble of anticipation. At the starting point we may have an idea of our point of arrival. But what lies before us and makes us shudder is the journey.”

This book gives the reader a perfect combination of straightforward thrills and supernatural elements. It doesn’t become clear where the story is taking the reader until the very end of the book. But, while the resolution comes as a surprise, it does come as a logical, yet unexpected, conclusion of the narrative.  

When Jac discovers a letter addressed to her from Theo, a man she hasn’t seen or heard from since she was fourteen she jumps on the opportunity to travel to Jersey and help him unravel a mystery linking back to the time of the Celts and Druids. But when she and Theo first met, both teenagers had big issues and Jac can’t quite remember the events leading up to the moment when they were suddenly and seemingly permanently separated.

Reunited, despite strong opposition from the man who treated them when they were teenagers, both Theo and Jac are once again struggling with traumatic personal issues. Searching for the mystery manuscript, allegedly hidden on the Island by Victor Hugo, provides them with an opportunity to concentrate on something other than the losses they have suffered. But all is not well; Theo appears as troubled as he ever was and Jac, once again, finds herself haunted by visions she can’t control.

“Now he was thirty-three and seemed almost ruined.”

Solving this mystery will not only answer questions about Victor Hugo’s time on Jersey, it will also provide both Jac and Theo with answers they need in order to move forward in their life.

The story in this book is told in two, alternating, storylines. We get an insight to Victor Hugo’s time and struggles on Jersey through his (hidden) notebooks. The story about Jac, Theo and the quest they’re on links into Hugo’s story but goes much further because their mystery has roots in more ancient times. The combination of history, mystery, supernatural occurrences and human relationships make this an intriguing, fast moving and multi-layered story. And I haven’t even mentioned the links to perfume and scents yet.

“Her father always used to talk about how scent connects us to a past we can’t always see, that seems lost but can so easily be conjured up and found.”

M.J. Rose writes beautiful books. Her writing is thoughtful, descriptive and clear. It is easy to see the landscapes she describes and it is almost possible to smell the scents from their descriptions. She manages to give her readers a fascinating and thrilling story without ever compromising on background in favour of shocks. Too often these days it seems readers have to choose between beautiful and descriptive writing and thrilling adventures. Mrs. Rose manages to give her readers both without compromising on either, which means we are treated to reading enjoyment on every level. On a personal note it means that this reader will now have to go back and read all the books she has managed to miss in this series; something I look forward to with delight.

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