Magic. Mysticism. Alchemy. Voodoo. What a wild mix of elements make up this story. As the action toggles back and forth between 16th century Venice and present day England, the cast of characters swaps along with the setting. In Venice we follow Edward Kelley (a protege of the alchemist John Dee), as he tries to complete research for a patron named Lord Dannick. Among all the glittering masked balls, intrigue, and danger from the Inquisition, Kelley attempts to contact the family he believes holds the information his patron needs. In England, Jack is busy cleaning out the cottage that her foster mother has inherited. The local gentry stops by to ask about an herbal concoction that the cottage's owner had supplied to his family, the Dannicks. Sound familiar? Yes, it's the same family, which creates just one of the connections between the two time periods.
The characters are fascinating. Jack, or Jackdaw, is still trying to recover from her showdown with Elizabeth Bathory (in the first book, The Secrets of Life and Death). She and the teenager Sadie are both "borrowed timers" and need special magical symbols and potions to maintain their energy. Their friend Felix is busy researching others with their symptoms, trying to find a way to free them from their dependence on outside sources of energy. His search takes him from New Orleans to Paris and then to London and plunges him into the world of blood-drinkers and voodoo. Edward Kelley is one of the practitioners of alchemy, but he also has had experience with occult rituals, demons, and encounters versions of werewolves and blood-drinkers, as well as the Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Yes, another connection.
You should really read the books in order to see how all the connections form and how tightly these seemingly disparate threads are actually woven together. Whether you prefer historical fiction with alchemy and magic, or present-day urban fiction, this blend is an enjoyable one. Readers of books such as the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness will feel right at home in these pages.
Author info page from publisher
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."