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.
My Thoughts: This book was completely different than what I expected. It was a fascinating story of spirits and suffering and wove together the lives of people from three completely different periods in history.
The author did an amazing job of creating three really unique and intriguing stories and of managing to weave them together into one larger cohesive story. I don't know very much about Victor Hugo's life so I thought the parts of the story that involved him were especially interesting. I think the author made him into a sympathetic character; I couldn't help but feel for him as he grieved for his daughter and struggled with the 'Shadow of the Sepulcher'. I also really enjoyed the sections that went back to
56 BCE and Owain's life as a Druid priest. It's unusual to read a story set so far back in history and I think that's why I liked it so much.
While I did love the story, I had a hard time with Jac's character. I felt like I didn't get to know her that well; the story focused on a few very specific periods in her past but other than seeing how damaged she was, I didn't feel like she had much of a personality. That being said, after finishing the book I realized that it is the second book that involves Jac's character so I think that it is very possible that if I had read The Book of Lost Fragances first, I would have had a better idea of who Jac was as a person and maybe I would have liked her more. Though I had some issues with Jac, I did like some of the other lesser characters. Theo's aunts, Eve and Minerva, added so much personality to such a dark story. I also really liked Malachi, Jac's doctor. His fascinating interest in reincarnation which really became a bigger part of the story than I expected it to but added to the uniqueness of the story as a whole.
I think what surprised me most was how creepy this story was. There were times when I thought to myself that I should put it down until the next day because it was little scary. I don't see this as a bad thing at all; I kind of like when a book can scare me a little. Overall, I think this was a very well-written and captivating story. 3 1/2 stars.
About the Author:
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
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