To live in the moment of desire is to be yourself in the most pure and painful way possible, because beneath every touch is the knowledge of how fleeting the pleasure is. How elusive the passion. How impossible it is to contain it for long.
Seduction is the latest novel in M.J. Rose’s series about reincarnation, revisiting the main character from The Book of Lost Fragrances (which I loved). As with all the other books in the series, it can be read on its own. Rose weaves together the past and the present in this haunting, atmospheric tale. She brings back mythologist Jac L’Etoile, who is still coming to terms with the hallucinations she’s had since childhood, refusing to believe they could be glimpses of her past lives, and mourning the end of a love affair when she is contacted by Theo Gaspard about checking out what could be Celtic ruins on the Isle of Jersey.
Jac hasn’t seen Theo since they were teenagers receiving therapy at a clinic in Switzerland, but she remembers the intense bond they shared, how they understood each other in a way that no one ever had. Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation, Jac’s therapist and friend who has devoted his entire life to the study of reincarnation and the search for elusive memory tools, warns her against going, but she’s not going to pass up a chance to explore the ruins and find proof of the existence of the Druids. However, Theo also wants Jac’s help in finding a journal written by novelist Victor Hugo in 1855 that supposedly is hidden in one of the island’s many caves and details his conversations with the Shadow of the Sepulcher.
The novel shifts back and forth between Jac’s adventures in the caves and ruins of Jersey and the scent triggers that bring her back in time and Victor Hugo’s first-person account of the numerous séances in which he participated in the hopes of communicating with his beloved daughter who drowned 10 years before. Hugo’s story involves a perfumer with ties to the Gaspard family and a spirit that tempts him with the impossible.
Seduction is a captivating, fast-paced novel that is sensual and mysterious, beautiful and tragic, with luscious descriptions of the scents of ancient woods and the sea. I was surprised by the complexity of the plot, fascinated by the tortured characters, enamored of the scenery, and even chilled by the evil that Hugo must battle. Readers don’t have to believe in reincarnation to buy into the plot, nor do they have to worry about romance overshadowing a story about haunted souls struggling to find peace in their lives. Rose is a gifted storyteller who perfectly blends the fact and the fiction to create an unputdownable novel that had me wanting to drop everything to travel to Jersey and see it for myself.
Disclosure: I received Seduction from Atria for review.
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