by M.J. Rose
Series: The Reincarnationist #5
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost letters of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries. In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed. Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.
Today I am excited to be sharing my review of Seduction by M.J. Rose as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour. Be sure and visit the other stops on the tour for author interviews, reviews, and guest posts. You can see a complete list of stops here.
Last year I read and loved The Book of Lost Fragrances a novel that took me to France and the catacombs. At the time I did not know it was part of a series and it held its own as a standalone, so I was excited to be offered a copy of Seduction. M.J. Rose held me captive as we traveled from past to present chasing ghosts and secrets.
Rose splits our time between the past with the famous French poet Victor Hugo and present-day mythologist Jac L’Etoile. Victor wrote such fine works as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Miserables. His story focuses on the death of his daughter and his exploration into séances as a means to communicate but he may just invite something else into his home. Jac is recovering from her trip to Paris when she is invited by an old teenage friend to explore the Isle of Jersey and its Celtic roots. When she arrives she discovers Theo wants her help in recovering the lost conversations Victor had with someone referred to as the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Lyrically written this suspenseful tale lured me in as it weaved past and present together into a captivated tale.
Rose has an amazing gift for bringing characters to life. She skillfully reveals their flaws and strengths and while you might not like all of their traits you understand their motives, desires, and fears. I met Jac in the previous novel and she is complex, intelligent, gifted, curious and afraid of her own abilities. Scent triggers memories from the past, giving her glimpses into the past. The smell triggers it and she finds herself transported to a scene, a time or a place. These events both frighten and intrigue her. Jac is a skeptic and likes to deals in facts. She stars and produces a show that debunks mythology. Her plan was to show people how one kernel of truth morphed into outlandish tales, but instead, people took that kernel and believed. Theo is obsessed with finding the lost letters; he is troubled and suffers from depression and anxiety. Overall, I found him to be interesting. We met Malachai in previous books; he is a therapist and expert in reincarnation and repressed lives. He treated both Theo and Jac as teens and fears for Jac safety when she travels to Jersey. We do not get a lot of face time with him as much of his interaction is done over the phone. Owain a druid priest seeks help from the gods and is given a horrific task. Other characters both past and present help drive the suspense.
Rose delivered a gothic tale that was both suspenseful and detailed. My personal favorite was Victor Hugo’s thread and I found her attention to detail regarding his life astounding. The tale is filled with séances; ancient druid ceremonies, reincarnation, and spiritualism. Jac’s hallucinations help thread the mysteries and characters together. Jac comes from a family of perfumers and her ability to smell and extract scents was fascinating. We learn details about the techniques and I enjoyed them. The tale is dark, filled with danger but has a hint of romance. While the pacing can be slow at times the tale continually increased in suspense keeping me locked in its grip. Wrapped into this dark and atmospheric tale there is a profound sadness that you cannot help but feel and connect to. I loved all of the details regarding the Celtic ruins and mythology and appreciated the author’s skilled world building. Her writing is both beautiful, and dark. She brings images, places, and emotions to life. I have always been fascinated by reincarnation and found myself spellbound. Rose brought all the threads together and even managed to surprise me. I felt it had great closure and look forward to the next book.
Imaginative and beautifully researched Seduction will seduce you as the characters search to overcome their demons. If reincarnation, gothic novels, and fiction mixed with real historical characters, civilizations, and myths fascinate you I recommend you give Seduction and the Reincarnationist series a try.