M.J. Rose
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Buy *Seduction: A Novel of Suspense* by M.J. Roseonline

Seduction: A Novel of Suspense
M.J. Rose
Atria Books
384 pages
March 2014
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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A thought-provoking travel though time, Seduction begins in the year 1855 when we meet our first-person narrator: the famous author Victor Hugo. Hugo first arrived in Jersey two years ago in a self-imposed political exile from his beloved France. After a decade of grieving, what keeps Hugo breathing from one day to the next is the idea that his beloved daughter, Didine, was not gone for all time.

Infusing her novel with an unrelenting melancholy, Rose counterbalances Hugo’s sadness with Jac, who lives in modern-day New York. A researcher who specializes in ancient Celtic mythology, Jac is phobia-ridden and often plagued with depression. Only her mentor Malachai, a Jungian therapist assigned to her case at Blixer Bath clinic in Switzerland seventeen years ago, can bring Jac out of her shadows for long.

There are many echoes of other novels in this brief book, though Rose’s tale is unique as it delicately deals with themes of love, loneliness, friendship and abandonment. Although her life is filled with negative existential dilemmas, Jac takes up his invitation to travel to Jersey after her friend Theo sends her a letter written in 1855 by a well-educated gentleman of note. Armed with her memories of a drawing--a circle of rocks they did that summer at Blixer--Jac helps Theo help search for proof of Victor Hugo’s hidden notebooks as she is emotionally transported back to two different time periods.

A man and a woman who share a common sadness from loss, Jac and Theo plunge into the life of Victor Hugo while the man himself is plagued by the ghost of his dead daughter. Under the night sky he exchanges confidences with a girl, a young perfumer called Fantine, lapping up her promises to help him overcome his grief. Haunted by the Shadow voice, so plaintive and laced with sadness, Hugo is positive that Didine is coming back to him. A creature of nightmares, the Shadow symbolizes how Hugo is perpetually haunted and possessed by devils and demons.

Jersey is beautifully described: the patches of fog that hang on the cliffs, the salty air, the complete vista looking like an impressionist painting, both atmospheric and suggestive. From an age-old Jersey Island family, war-torn Theo brooks no resistance, overcoming doubts and naysayers with the dedication of the true visionary, willing to put his reputation at risk. Jac, meanwhile, is torn between issues and conflicts; strong likes and dislikes manifest in a myriad of things, and she sees in Theo’s eyes a raw, unrelenting pain that unsettles her.

Intertwining the different time periods, Rose’s characters are drawn from all walks of life: Eva and Claire, Theo’s maiden aunts, the dowager sisters, the mistresses of ancient Woods House with its unyielding monuments perched above the rugged cliffs and surrounded by haunted woods. Jac gets to know brother Ash Gaspard so that he might help to understand Theo, whose mysterious brooding has captured Jac’s imagination. Through Eva and Claire, Jac learns of Hugo's introduction to Fantine, who was exiled from Paris and once cooked up scents to fill her husband’s jeweled flacons.

From Jac’s dream of “witch druids” to Theo’s ancestors, the dowager sisters, and the rambling Woods house filled with antiquities, strange forces engage in séances and study magic. The hidden Hugo treasure only adds to the combination of history, mystery, and supernatural occurrences that populate this lush, lyrical tale.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2013

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