Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander



The Secrets of Life and DeathIn 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.
 
This book started off with promise but soon warped. The best parts about it were the historical chapters, while the modern ones dragged the story down.

The historical chapters create a mood that the modern ones do not. There is an air of mystery that is completely lost in Jack’s storyline. One of the most infuriating issues I had with the novel was how quickly Felix accepted everything that was happening with Jack and Sadie. He is a professor, why would he believe in the supernatural so quickly? Even with evidence, it should have takes a bit longer for him to have warmed to the ideas Jack presented. 

The characters could have all been developed more fully, including Kelley and Dee. When you write about historical figures, they better pop with life, and these did not. Bathory was better, but the menace wasn’t strong enough to be exciting. 

I was disappointed in this novel because its synopsis was so enticing. Its pacing is both too abrupt and too slow, if that makes any sense. This is not one I’d recommend.

1 comment:

Kimi Barra said...

I agree, the synopsis sounds so good and I especially love how it is historical. It sucks that you got disappointed in the end. Great review though! :)

-Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas