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September 19, 2022

Review in Haiku: The Reincarnationist

By Katrina Stonoff

Terrorist bomb throws
Josh into scenes from the past.
Dreams? Or Memories?

The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose seemed to take forever to get published! I'd heard enough buzz about this novel that it just about destroyed me to wait.

I pre-ordered it, and when it arrived, I put everything else aside to start reading immediately.

When I turned the last page 48 hours later, my heart was racing. I was breathing like a long distance runner. Oh, yeah. That was a thrill ride!

Reincarnationist is about a photographer who has unusually realistic nightmares after an accident in Rome. Real enough to be memories. Memories that belong to a high-priest in the last days of pagan Rome, a time when Christians systematically dismantled the ancient religions as they burned the temples.

It's also about a man in late 1800s New York, trying to "prove" reincarnation. This should be confusing -- reading about three different time periods -- but Rose makes the jumps seamless.

I've read two of Rose's blogs for almost two years now: Backstory (which tells why authors wrote specific books) and Buzz, Balls & Hype (which teaches authors how to publicize their books). But The Reincarnationist was the first of her novels I've read.

It won't be the last. I understand it's the first of a series of three (or more), a series unusual because the characters don't return. The common theme is rather a series of fictional "tools" that help people recover memories of their past lives.

Following a link from Rose's website, I listened to her interview on the Book Expo Podcast. She mentioned that very little fiction had been written about reincarnation.

I thought Rose was nuts. I clearly remembered a fascinating novel about reincarnation that I read as a girl, and if I could casually remember one, surely there were others, right?

The book I read belonged to one of my older sisters. It was about an American woman named Cecilia who was madly in love with her new, British husband, but when they moved into his ancestral home, he seemed to change in a very unsettling way. It was also about a monk named Stephen who had an illicit relationship with a young girl in his spiritual care.

The book haunted me for decades, but since it was missing the cover and title page, I never knew the name of it. Still, I hunted for years without any luck.

I thought of my decades-long search as Rose said little fiction had been written about the subject. Then in her next breath, she added that there hasn't been a novel about reincarnation since Anya Seton's The Green Darkness.

I felt an electric thrill, and clicked immediately over to Amazon. Yep. Green Darkness was the book whose title I didn't know. It was reprinted two years ago.

Expect to see that one show up here soon. But in the meantime, go read The Reincarnationist. If you love thrillers, or are into the occult or reincarnation, or just, heck, love a great story ... this one's a doozy!

Article © Katrina Stonoff. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-03-16
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