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Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: "The Secrets of Life and Death" by Rebecca Alexander

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 courtesy of Goodreads)

My Review:

This book started off with a bang! I'm starting to notice a pattern, though: lately, books have been based on some historical event. This one is based on the murderess Countess Elizabeth Bathory. I've been secretly stalking this book for months now, as it wasn't available in the U.S until recently. Every thing about this book was amazing: the characters, the setting, the premise, the dog (I'm just kidding about that last one...kind of).

I loved that one of the primary settings was in Transylvania-I've always wanted to go there! Transylvania doesn't disappoint, with it's gypsies, bloodsuckers and witches; it's uber spooky! The story jumps back and forth between the past and present-which I liked because the author chooses to lead the reader to all the magnificent discoveries and unveilings by writing this way. In the beginning of each "past" chapter, is a journal entry by Edward Kelley.

The characters were relatable for the most part, and I really got to know them by the end of the book. Sadie was annoying with her incessant whining and schemes. I kept thinking "you must want to die". Felix was pretty cool and thank God, not a total douche (you never know with characters these days!). I felt bad for Felix, though; he's a victim to a cheater of an ex-wife who's also an opportunist, in my opinion. Jack was also super cool. My favorite character is Ches, "man's best friend". Who can resist an adorable doggy? Doctor Dee and Edward Kelley were just foolish- they should have known the ritual they performed was demonic when Edward started spouting demon names! All I know is, Edward should have been exorcised stat!

The ending was bittersweet and realistic. I'm not sure how there could have been a happily-ever-after anyways. I was pleased to see the parents of Sadie and Jack get closure for the pain they have endured. I'm still scratching my head over the countess' death- how was she not able to handle the fire elemental if she's possessed  by an evil entity? I have no idea, but the book was good.

Favorite Quotes:

"He may try to wrap himself in the blessings of Rome," he whispered, "but the Bathorys are cursed. Why else would he need a sorcerer's spells and talismans? You know the Devil's own magical letters, that is why you were invited here."
I stepped back from the reach of the man's stink. "We have been blessed by angels who have spoken wisdoms to us," I said, with some anger, "Those angels affirmed that Jesus was the son of God."
"And demons cannot lie?" he chuckled.

"Witchcraft?" I was appalled of the idea. While as a man, I might dabble in powerful natural forces such as alchemy, everyone knows witches attract the devil himself with the sinfulness of the female nature.

He smiled without mirth, "God may direct me there, and I pray that he does. But you, sir, are guided by Satan himself, if you create an undead queen for these lands."

384 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Broadway Books

Rating:  🔔🔔🔔🔔
Recommend?   If you don't mind the presence of the supernatural, then

(ARC courtesy of Broadway Books and Net Galley)


Trinh Nguyen said...

Good revurew. I like the quotes

Trinh Nguyen said...

Review** sorry

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