M. J. Rose
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Atria Books
Release Date
May 2013
Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

A gothic tale about Victor Hugo's long-buried secrets and the power of a love that never dies . . . In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo's beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the devil himself. Hugo's transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.

Or so it has been believed . . .

Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L'Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island's mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles and hidden caves. But the man who has invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she'll help him discover something quite different— transcripts of Hugo's lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find. Neither Jac nor Theo anticipate that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake.

Seduction is a historically evocative and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, written by one of America's most gifted and imaginative novelists. Awakening a mystery that spans centuries, this multilayered gothic tale brings a time, a place and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jun 06, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
127 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully descriptive, tense and dark in the style of the best gothic stories, M.J. Rose's latest novel will hold readers spellbound with this tale of ghosts, reincarnation and a love stronger than death itself.

In 1843, Victor Hugo's beloved daughter, Leopoldine, drowned in the Seine at age nineteen. Devastated, the famous author spent a decade trying to reconcile himself to the loss, but to no avail—until a dinner guest describes a séance, explaining that there is every indication that the dead can indeed communicate with those living souls brave enough to make a connection. Desperate for the chance to talk again with his daughter, Hugo and his family immediate begin holding séances in their Jersey home, first contacting Leopoldine and, over the course of time, boast conversations with spirits as illustrious as Dante, Shakespeare and Jesus Christ. Hugo devotes himself to transcribing his conversations, hoping to aid others through his experiences. But when he is contacted by a dark presence who calls itself the Shadow of the Sepulcher, Hugo begins to fear that he may have met a spirit too powerful to control.

Meanwhile, in the present day, mythologist and documentary producer Jac L'Etoile, a young woman who is trying desperately to recover from her own loss, is losing her control over the visions that have plagued her since childhood. Her mentor at the Phoenix Institute insists that Jac is seeing visions from her past lives, but a born skeptic, refuses to accept what she cannot prove. When a letter arrives from Theo Gaspard, a childhood love, asking for her help investigating the secrets of Jersey's ancient Celtic inhabitants, Jac is drawn instinctively to the island. But Theo's research has taken a dark turn, focusing on Victor Hugo's strange spirit contact, and a journey that will force Jac to reconsider every truth she once held dear and bring her face-to-face with the troubling secrets of her own past.

Though it took me a little longer to sympathize with Jac and her story than with the historic plotline, I eventually came to realize what a remarkable character she is. Her upbringing in a perfumery has given her an unparalleled sense of smell and understanding of scents that adds a layer of sensory detail that isn't really explored in other stories. Her devotion to hunting down the origins of myths around the world has made her a perceptive observer and researcher, which is immensely helpful in unraveling the secrets that Hugo's plotline have constructed. In addition, her own personal battles make her a stronger character than I initially believed her to be, and by the book's end, I was fully engrossed in Jac as the heroine of her story.

M.J. Rose is a master at building tension. Without sacrificing the atmosphere or the wonderful sensory details that make each scene come alive, the plot moves well, gaining momentum as each character find themselves drawn deeper into the strange and fascinating mysteries of reincarnation and mythology. The worlds of the book, both past and present, are so full of life and populated by well-rounded characters that they feel real, and in such a setting, the paranormal and the inexplicable components of those world feel plausible as well. The way scenic details are used to tie the two time periods of the book together make it relatively easy to switch between the plots and still grasp both storylines with ease.

Readers familiar with M.J. Rose's The Book of Lost Fragrances will recognize several characters in this story, but new readers will not need an introduction in order to plunge into this heady tale. As a newcomer to M.J. Rose's work, myself, I was quite at home in the world and with its complex characters, and found so much to savor in this thought-provoking, atmospheric and very well-plotted suspense story that I know I will be searching out the rest of her books very soon.
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