Katherine Howe weaves fictional magic involving tales of ancestral bloodlines, curses, ghosts, and witch trials. All of this spun amid solid historical fact. In this book, Boston at the turn of the last century, anchors the story of Sibyl Allston, a woman who is resigned to her role as family caretaker after she loses her mother and younger sister on the Titanic.
Once a society debutante, Sibyl’s circle now includes a medium with whom she hopes to reconnect with her dead family members. When her younger brother is dismissed from Harvard for reasons he won’t disclose, Sibyl seeks out a former romantic acquaintance for help. Professor Benton Jones, who is recently widowed comes to her aid. Sibyl gets caught up in the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown as she falls increasingly under the spell of the medium she has come to trust. Can Benton help her to solve what’s going on now and in the family’s past?
The book is character-driven and slow in places. The period descriptions and blending of the paranormal with an investigation keeps things interesting overall. The author uses multiple points of view to frame the story. Sibyl has her tale but so does her father Lan, her mother Helen, her sister Eulah, and her brother Harlan. Ultimately, this is a story about Sibyl finding her truth after much searching. A good book to be enjoyed for its characterization, setting, and the thoughts it provokes on fate versus free will. And just for fun, the author provides directions on how to do your own scrying!
I wanted to read this book immediately after I read the premise.
Jac L’Etoile is a successful author and TV personality who hosts a show about myths. She comes from a long line of famous French perfumers, but she’s walked away from the business. It’s not until the business is in trouble and her brother goes missing in Paris that she returns to confront her past. Her mother’s suicide, a father suffering dementia, and troubling visions all connected with scent threaten to derail Jac from finding her brother.
Jac learns her brother has resurrected a family legend tied to an ancestor who discovered a scent created in Cleopatra’s time that could induce memories of past lives. Of course, Jac is highly skeptical of the idea, but as her own visions intensify bringing her closer to her dead mother, images of ancient Egypt and the French Revolution begin to emerge all calling her sanity into question. Evidence comes light that forces Jac to consider whether her brother may have been killed for Cleopatra’s secret scent. An esoteric society along with the Chinese government all have designs on the powerful perfume her brother was protecting. Interestingly, the brother’s only wish is to get the scent into the hands of the Dalai Lama who can use the memory tool as possible evidence for reincarnation.
I found the idea of scent as a possible device for unlocking past life memory original and irresistible. The visions/past life memory segments of the book were well done. The book reads like a thriller and that’s a plus for me. There is a romantic element woven in that’s kind of cliché but necessary for Jac to resolve her karmic past. I appreciate the author’s research into scent and the history of the perfume industry and did not find it distracted from the plot. I love that kind of detail! Unfortunately, two little details irked me. The Dalai Lama wears burgundy robes not saffron (saffron is worn by Southeast Asian Buddhists). There is also a lot made out of the Dalai Lama being inaccessible and unreachable by Jac’s brother which is not true. His Holiness travels and has a full calendar. He meets groups wherever he goes and he holds meetings in Dharamsala. I know people who have met the Dalai Lama so he is far from unreachable.
Overall, this is an interesting book that moves fast and keeps the reader’s attention while introducing a little known industry. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is part of a series on reincarnation by MJ Rose. Some of the reviews for this book indicate she’s hit her stride with this one.
I know Philip Kerr from his children’s novels and didn’t realize he wrote stories for adults. While searching for another book, I came upon his Dark Matter, a novel written in 2002 and it immediately caught my attention. It’s 1696 and Christopher Ellis has just taken on a job assisting Sir Isaac Newton at the Royal Mint. As Warden, it’s Newton’s job to hunt down counterfeiters. A challenging enough job but when mysterious murders start happening, Ellis plays Watson to Newton as an earlier version of Sherlock Holmes. Clues and body counts rise as Ellis and Newton face personal danger in the politically volatile back streets of London. Throw in a mix of alchemy and codes and we’re off on a most puzzling case. Turns out that more than the economy of the realm is threatened. A century’s old massacre pits Huguenots against Catholics in a revenge plot only the brain of Newton can piece together. This is a thoroughly fun historical thriller. Kerr excels with this one!
August 11, 2PM: I’ve drawn 4 winners for the print copies of Into the Land of Snows. Thanks to everyone who entered. The winners are: Sue S., Finally Florida, Alessandro, and Paronson. Congratulations!! I hope you’ll like the book. I will be contacting all of you to get your shipping addresses. If you see this, you can shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Jupiter Gardens Press went belly up, I struggled with whether or not to do the self-publishing thing. Turns out, it was easier than I expected. I am excited to announce the launch of my first self-published book! I worked with the fabulous Anna Spies at EerilyFair to create a cover I truly love. Thanks, Anna! Now it’s time to share the love. I will be giving away 4 signed paperback copies of Into the Land of Snows using a random drawing (US residents only, since I have to mail them). The contest will run from today until noon Aug. 11 (next Thursday). Enter by leaving me a comment about something fun you did this summer.
About the book: Visionary Fiction
Sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.
“Well-written with engaging and believable characters, this story has it all: adventure, mystery, magic, and wisdom.” Naomi C. Rose
“Into the Land of Snows is a eminently readable YA novel that moves quickly and adeptly through many mystical twists and turns. A very fast and enjoyable read! I recommend it highly to YA audiences, but to adults as well.” Rea Nolan
“Into the Land of Snows takes the reader into a world so different, so beautifully challenging in its vision of life that the reader is drawn-in completely. So strong is the vision presented in this book it may even change the being within you.” Karin DeMer
With Jupiter Gardens closing its doors, I’ve decided to re-release INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS. I’ve had an amazing time working with Anna Spies of EerilyFair (https://www.facebook.com/eerilyfairdesign/). She is a talented and imaginative cover designer and here’s a peek at the new cover design. Freakin’ awesome job!
As part of the process, I got to view photos of teenage male models and choose one for Blake. Somehow I accidentally sent some of those images to my son via Facebook. That provoked a few awkward questions!!
“After all, it is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.” Voltaire
I’m not sure how I found this book. It was mentioned in some reading I was doing and luckily although it was first published in 1987, I was able to get a copy. This is a reincarnation story with a big twist. The New York Times once referred to Omm Sety as “one of the Western World’s most intriguing and convincing modern case histories of reincarnation.” And it is.
Dorothy Louise Eady (1904-1981) at age three fell down a flight of stairs at home and was pronounced dead by a doctor. The doctor left to make arrangements for the body and upon returning had quite a shock finding Dorothy sitting up, awake in bed. Over the next few years, the child started talking about wanting to go home. She was kicked out of Sunday school for comparing Christianity to an ancient religion and fared no better in regular school. Eventually, a priest visited and told her parents to keep her away from Catholic services. It was on a trip to the British Museum’s Egyptian rooms that things fell into place for Dorothy. There she saw a photograph and exclaimed, “There is my home!” She seemed to recognize the temple of Seti I. After that, she made frequent trips to visit the Egyptian collection eventually meeting E.A. Wallis. He taught her to read hieroglyphs.
From an early age Dorothy Eady was consumed by the desire to learn all things Egyptian. At 15, she described a nighttime visit by Seti I (in mummy form). She had vivid dreams of ancient Egypt and saw herself as a young girl. Troubled by her behavior and sleep disturbances, her parents placed her in sanatoriums but no real answers were forthcoming. As a teen, Dorothy began collecting Egyptian antiquities and, while performing with a theatre group, she played Isis in a production of the story of Isis and Osiris. In her twenties she went to work for a magazine that advanced Egyptian public relations and support for an independent Egypt.
In 1933, Dorothy married an Egyptian teacher and moved to Cairo. She reported that she felt that she was finally at home. It was here that she began to entertain the presence known as King Sety I. He came as a physical being that Dorothy could touch. Her mother who visited at one point also saw the form of the king, but mistook him initially for Dorothy’s husband. After the birth of her son, Sety, Dorothy’s behavior grew more concerning. She would get out of bed in a semi-trance state and sit at a desk and write fragmentary hieroglyphic messages.
Seti I Temple, Abydos
Over the year that followed, Dorothy transcribed the story of her previous life in Egypt. The being who related the story was known as “Hor-Ra”. The work ran about seventy pages written in hieroglyphics. In the Egyptian lifetime, Dorothy was known as Bentreshyt. She came from humble beginnings and was placed in the care of the temple at Kom el-Sultan. As a teenager, she took the vows to become a temple virgin. Eventually, she met Sety I and they began an affair. Bentreshyt was pregnant by the time the temple authorities became aware of the situation. In order to save Sety I from the shame of the affair, Bentreshyt committed suicide. Upon learning her fate, Sety I was inconsolable.
By 1935, Dorothy’s marriage had crumbled and she relocated to a town near the Giza pyramids taking a job as a secretary and draughtswoman for an archeologist. She also dedicated herself to writing articles and books about Egypt. Her work here made her a valuable asset and she later moved on to work with Ahmed Fakhry at Dashur. While there, she was known to make offerings to the gods of ancient Egypt and spend nights in the Great pyramid. Dorothy’s work there ended in 1956 when Fakhry’s project ended. She was offered a well- paid job in the Cairo Records Office or a low paying position in Abydos. After consulting Sety I, she moved to the small town of Arabet Abydos and lived amongst the Egyptian people at a subsistence level. Dorothy now became known as “Omm Sety” (mother of Sety) as was the custom of villagers to refer to women by the name of their oldest child.
Abydos site. Photo: Merlin-UK
Omm Sety’s current incarnation was now living where Bentreshyt had lived during the Sety I reign. Her visitations with the king continued here and much more is disclosed. Two tests of Omm Sety’s reincarnation story happened here. In the first, she was asked to locate a particular wall painting at the Temple of Sety in the dark. She accomplished this during a time period when no publication had yet to divulge where the particular painting was in the complex. The other test concerned the location of a garden at the temple. Omm Sety had insisted from childhood that there was a garden at the temple and it was while she was living in Abydos that a garden matching her description was excavated. Omm Sety lived out the rest of her life pursuing her Egyptological studies, integrating into the local community, and practicing her ancient religion. She garnered the respect of the Egyptologists she worked with for her knowledge and integrity.
The Search for Omm Sety is a fascinating read about a woman who lived her life passionately believing she had once lived as an Egyptian priestess. There is much more to the intimate story of her and Sety’s relationship in this life for those wishing to pursue it. It’s a curious tale more powerful than many fictional stories about reincarnation.
She’s only fifteen. She shouldn’t have to play anesthesia games at all, never mind this often, but whatever. She tries not to waste time feeling sorry for herself. She already knows life isn’t fair. Get over it. If you’re going to survive, you have to turn it into a game you have a chance of winning, a game that makes up for lost time. A game that teaches you how to be awake even when you’re not.
This book has already garnered many positive reviews on Amazon which highlight the author’s skill with characterization, pacing, and the way tense moments are flavored with gentle humor. And I totally agree. Rea Nolan Martin has successfully woven a story around four women facing crisis. We are drawn in and caught up in their lives. Most of us will have faced some part of this story either in our own lives or in the lives of a loved one.
What I want to highlight is that this is a masterful work in the emerging genre of visionary fiction. And here the author shows her talent best. She asks us to dig deep and think about healing. How much do we rely on medical professionals? How much power do we have over our own healing? On the healing of others? The writing here is so compelling that I know Rea Nolan Martin has experienced these questions and wrestled with them in her own life. She is drawing from what she “knows”. Anyone who reads about where science is leading us will also feel a resonance to the ideas of the zero point field. Others will gravitate to the language of interconnectedness. Either way, we have to reexamine our place on earth and in the cosmos.
Few authors can take on these themes and make them accessible. This author can. Grab this one!