Ever since childhood, Molly has been haunted. The place of her involuntary visions is dark and its people are troubled by hunger and poverty. This is the distant past – England of a thousand years ago, medieval shadows during the reign of King John.
But it is murder within her own modern life which changes everything. Molly is drawn into the police investigation, and pulled between past and present, each now as disturbing as the other, she becomes confused. Her personality splits.
Then an identical murder in the distant haunted past of her dreams joins the two worlds in equal danger. Molly passes between. Now she travels time but is followed by some horror which kills and mutilates at will. She has opened the door to evil and the man, his voice the rustle of dead leaves, is always there. Yet Molly discovers far more than fear and misery. She discovers a whole new life, and a love she could never have imagined. Now she no longer wants to return – but she must. [Amazon product description]
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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I really enjoyed this story. It’s a story you should really concentrate and take your time to read. It doesn’t rush you into learning the characters. As a reader, I didn’t know who to trust because Molly/Tilda didn’t know who to trust. So, for example, if someone betrayed her, I felt the betrayal. It was harsh and unpleasant. When I, as a reader can feel emotions that mimic the character/protagonist; it is the mark of an excellent novel. What stood out to me was the beautiful symbolism—a main theme in the story. There was also great imagery in this book. I felt the bleak world of England in the middle ages, yet I saw how the sun shined brighter and the air tasted sweeter than the future times. I could sense the appeal and understood why molly stayed in the past, despite the pangs of hunger. My favorite character was Molly/Tilda (in that order, tied but slightly more with Molly). I felt like I could relate more to Molly. Her reactions to the middle Ages and what was happening with Tilda mirrored mine. Her skepticism and judgment matched mine as a modern woman. The horrifying murders scared me, the alchemy intrigued me.
As the story unfolded, we learned as much as the protagonist. We learned with her, which made it unravel slower, perhaps, but more organically. Although the story took its time being told, every part was vital and it’s not the type of book you can read quickly or skim through some parts. (I am guilty of this as I do this with many books, it was refreshing to have to slowly read and absorb all the information in this book!)
Like Molly, you will leave your consciousness. You will enter into the Realm of Fairweather (which I thought was ironically named, until the ending when I understood it was the only name).
The story sucks you in; you become the "third presence" in Molly and Tilda’s shared consciousness.
I enjoyed the unique relationships in the story. For example, Molly’s husband, Bertie continued living with her after they divorced due to his infidelity. Most books try to simplify things like portraying one person as being clearly villainous, which I expected at first Bertie to be—yet it isn’t that way. In that way it’s closer to real life. There is something so HONEST about this story. It's a modern story, set in both middle aged England and modern age—but I think it will remain timeless.
I cried towards the end, the amount of emotion this book made me feel is overwhelming. I felt curiosity, sadness, grief, frustration, anger, rage, emptiness, loneliness, wonder. And finally; you feel the most brilliant of emotions -- love. This is truly a story of love. Not a "love story" but a story OF love.
Not cookie cutter love that we all know can occur between two unlikely characters; but real, messy, painful, sometimes deceitful love. It’s the kind of love that goes in circles and loves what perhaps it shouldn't, yet persists despite it all. Real love isn't explained in 100 pages. It took almost the entire book to the very end to fully comprehend the love, not only between these two characters, but among all the characters. The reader mistrusts Vespasian as Molly does in the beginning and throughout the novel; but also loves Vespasian. If an author can get the reader to feel what the character feels when the character 0feels it—it’s a home run. Denvil does this incredibly well. She does this so well I find myself swooning for Vespasian and wishing I had a dark man such as him to love. Sigh.
Such intense physical and emotional pain was endured by Tilda and Molly, this made the ending that much sweeter, yet nothing was assured. It’s a novel that takes you on a crazy imaginative journey. I honestly did NOT know what to expect! But it wasn't a "surprise ending;” rather, the entire book was a surprise. I felt I was being led on a path that had many turns; I would sometimes recognize a yew tree or silver pool, but I just trusted the narrator-- Molly/Tilda-- who takes us on this winding journey to another place and time. It's amazing. I ask you to read this book. You won’t regret it, I promise you. Denvil is on my “favorite authors” list now. The ideas and themes are so varied and imaginative, I sat in awe at how one mind can think of all these different nuances and background, which tie together beautifully in a braid. And a first time author too! It’s almost unbelievable. I can’t believe this is her first book. I will hungrily read all her other books and future books, and if there’s a sequel? *squeals* I’d just die!
Barbara Gaskell Denvil (Goodreads Profile)
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