Friday, May 15, 2015

The Secrets of Life and Death - Rebecca Alexander

Summary:  In modern day England, Professor Felix Guichard is called in to identify occult symbols found on the corpse of a young girl. His investigation brings him in contact with a mysterious woman, Jackdaw Hammond, who guards a monumental secret--She's Dead. Or she would be, were it not for magic which has artificially extended her life. But someone else knows her secret. Someone very old and very powerful, who won't rest until they've taken the magic that keeps her alive.... 

In Krakow in 1585, Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan Alchemist and Occultist, and his assistant Edward Kelley have been summoned by the King of Poland to save the life of his niece, the infamous Countess Elisabeth Bathory. But they soon realize that the only thing worse than the Countess' malady, is the magic that might be able to save her...

As Jackdaw and Felix race to uncover the truth about the person hunting her, it becomes clear that the answers they seek can only be found in the ancient diary of John Dee's assistant, Edward Kelley. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying. (Summary and image from  I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  History.  The Occult.  Vampires, revenants, and the Inquisition.  Oh, my.

Rebecca Alexander's foray into the world of Edward Kelley (a real historical figure) was a truly mind-spinning adventure.  Not only were we jumping between two different timelines, Alexander has done a masterful job explaining the mythology of the world she's created, injecting enough realism into the storyline to make the fantastical seem more tangible, but she has also managed to do so without losing the sense of urgency or reality that her endeavor demands.

The story, which was easy enough for me to follow post-surgery, still twisted, turned, demanded a suspension of belief, and held me on the edge of my seat.

However, this is a horror story.  It's dark.  It's intense.  It's worrisome, but I believe it was well done.  I'm not typically one to dive into the horror genre, so when I do, I demand that the book taking me there is worth the read.  I wasn't disappointed.

Rating:  Three and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  This is a horror novel.  There is a lot of what you'd expect in this genre.  If you're a squeamish reader, there are certainly books in the genre that could fit your need (Frankenstein).  But this is more gory than a sensitive or squeamish reader would appreciate.

1 comment:

Susan @ Reading World said...

Hmm, though I don't usually read horror the historical part piqued my interest. But I'm not sure. I'm not squeamish, but gratuitous gore puts me off.


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