By A.J. Krafton
Genre: New Adult Fiction
Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth–she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.
In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death–and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step. So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible–he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it… When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death–but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.
From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…
How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?
This story was simply breathtaking. Having read quite a bit of Edgar Allen Poe in high school and in college, I really appreciated the author’s nod to his work and the way she used so much imagery to allow Senza’s growing fears of death to take on such a demanding physical presence as if it is truly a threat that lies in wait to capture unwilling victims without hesitation or even mercy. It’s amazing to me that the author was able to take this fear of death and allow that internal conflict to carry the entire story. It affected every relationship Senza could have or would have had. Though it would be easy to dislike Senza for her childish vanity where her beauty and youth are concerned-these vanities are some underlying reasons behind not just her fear of death but her fear of growing older-it is obvious that her upbringing and the importance her mother placed on her daughters beauty is something we must fault the mother in and not the daughter. And even though Senza finally comes to understand the irrational fear of growing old and dying it is understandable that she might find the idea horrifying considering her worth was sacrificed upon the alter of all things superficial in nature. It helps the reader join in that journey of discovery on Senza’s part though she spends much of it fleeing from a happiness that might have been all consuming.
I noticed a reviewer described the author’s writing as boring and mediocre. I think this reviewer must not have been the right audience for this book, and simply wasn’t interested in the subject matter because the writing is anything but mediocre or boring. Besides it being technically flawless in every way it holds so much symbolism within the prose as it gives a reference to Poe’s work and the style of writing that requires a little digging within ourselves to pick out the message and theme interwoven within the lines of this truly poetic narrative. It’s meant to not only entertain, but to give the reader a little food for thought which is something I loved about the literature I read in college. Thought provoking material that stretches you just a little should never be dubbed mediocre simply because a particular reader might have been looking for something light and fluffy.
Senza’s development was memorable. She went from debilitating fear in the presence of death to complete acceptance of it when she had the opportunity to give everything she had to someone who was going to die either way. Such a selfless and self-sacrificing gesture she never would have considered previously, and though it took her quite some time to mature, her progress was obvious and measurable in a way that was both compelling and engrossing...
Read the rest of my review on SDE Magazine.