Book Review – Seduction

Seduction by M.J. Rose (2013)


I picked up this novel by chance through the online service I use to obtain galley copies of books (a galley being a book version released for small-scale reading prior to a book’s publication date, usually for reviewers and the like), after the service emailed me to tell me that I’d been pre-approved for this novel.


Seeing anything inform me that “I’d been pre-approved” didn’t exactly make me jump for joy – but at least this wasn’t a credit card offer.


Noticing that the book was about Victor Hugo, at least in part, definitely turned my head. I’ve a long-time fan of Les Miserables (though I’ll confess to never having read The Brick proper), and am always intrigued to learn more about the authors of France of that time period. So I downloaded the book – and fell into a world I’d never dreamed of.


Rose takes elements of truth and weaves a story so rich, I caught myself wanting to Google every detail, just to see if it was true. Hugo was very involved and interested in the spirit world, holding over a hundred seances in his time. Initially they were an attempt to contact his tragically deceased daughter – and over time, became an obsession with the world beyond.


Take Hugo’s story, told first-person from Hugo’s point of view, and match it alongside the story of Jac L’Etoile, a modern-day woman descended from perfumers that’s taken a cynical eye to mythology and the world beyond, despite her career in television and books working in just that area. The character concepts do feel a little cluttered – each character that’s introduced seems to have in-depth knowledge of absolutely everything – but as you come to know them, it does start to fit more neatly into their worlds.


Another plot is picked up halfway through – further back in time, following a priest from BC times and his family. Unlike some stories, the changes of character point-of-view flow seamlessly, and I never had trouble picking up who was speaking or when. (Keeping each of the stories in third-person save for Hugo’s – which we learn why over the course of the novel – likely helps.)


Jac’s journey, along with her childhood friend Theo Gaspard, is one rich with description and imagery. Rose has an uncanny ability to tell the tale and allow the reader to feel as if they are right there with Jac, smelling and seeing and experiencing all of it at the same time.


A few plotlines were never clarified – Jac’s story with Griffin jumps to mind, and while Naomi’s story is told from several different angles I’m not sure it’s ever entirely parsed (and I’m equally unsure it needs to be) – but I don’t believe this detracts from the novel overall in the least. I found myself anxious as the plot tightened, tense as the drama heightened, and caught by surprise by at least one of the plot twists.


Reincarnation, communing with the dead, mythology and Lucifer himself – all wrapped up in one exquisite book that catches hold of you and never really lets you go. Find a place where you can watch a storm crash over the water, tuck a blanket around you as a fire crackles nearby, lace your tea with some brandy and let Rose’s words wash over you like the scents she so aptly describes.


Seduction‘s publication date is May 7, 2013.


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