October 15, 2013

Reviews (XVI)

Review by Kit Wylde   Posted on Goodreads and rated 4 stars
This review is from:
Shadows of the Past (Kindle Edition)



Anne and her boyfriend Neil are on vacation in England to reconcile. What is supposed to be a quick hike to a romantic inn turns into a nightmare. One night next to a forest that emanates evil draws Anne into a tragedy that played itself out over 500 years before. Genevieve, a 15th century nun, visits Anne and beckons her to follow. Anne cannot resist and finds herself in the forest, drawn to a giant oak tree. This vision proves to be a dream, but now Anne is compelled to discover the story of Genevieve and set her free, if she can. Caught in a freak, violent thunderstorm, Neil and Anne seek refuge in an abbey ruin. But the ruin is not without secrets, secrets that could see both of them killed. For an evil stalks what should be blessed ground, and it seeks to prevent the two lovers from reconciliation and Anne from helping Genevieve.

Stefanescu has done her research. The 15th century was not a romantic time period, and Stefanescu brings it to life in all its “glory.” Beginning less than ten years before the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, superstition and fear ran rampant and being branded a witch meant certain death. The corruption in the church at this time is legendary and eventually led to Martin Luther, his 95 Theses, and the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The plague still cropped up randomly throughout Europe and England, wiping out entire villages. While the Renaissance had begun in other parts of Europe, it was just filtering into England as the War of the Roses was ongoing, only ending with the death of King Richard II at Bosworth Field in 1485.

In short, this was not an easy time to live.

Against this backdrop, we meet Genevieve, whose life is not surprisingly filled with desperation, sorrow, prejudice, and struggle. We follow her life through its many tragedies and few triumphs. As we do, we can only marvel at her resilient spirit, her ability to continue to love even though she has lost so much, and her desire to live despite it all. Finally, when all seems hopeless, she finds true love. But it is a forbidden love doomed from the outset as she is a nun and he is a priest. What will become of them?

The author does an excellent job seamlessly toggling back and forth between the story of Anne and Genevieve. I am more drawn to Anne’s story than Genevieve’s. This is because of the flowery prose in Genevieve’s section. Although this type of prose is indicative of the time period, it is not to my taste. That would be my only quibble with the book, even as I understand the reasoning behind it.

Still, this is a compelling story. I read it quickly and wanted to find out what became of Genevieve’s spirit and Anne and Neil’s relationship. I would gladly read a second book, if there is to be one. (The author certainly left an opening for a sequel.)

I would recommend it to people who enjoy atmospheric stories of the paranormal, love, passion, and history.

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