An exuberant, hectic, ultimately exhausting novel about (among other things) time travel, true love, and reincarnation, by the author of the hugely best-selling Like Water for Chocolate (1992). Set in Mexico City in the 23rd century, Esquivel's latest focuses on the determined and increasingly frantic attempts of Azucena, an ""astroanalyst"" (a therapist who helps people come to grips with the unfinished business of their past lives), to track down Rodrigo, her ""twin soul."" (After a soul has died and been reincarnated thousands of times, it seems, it finally attains sufficient wisdom to locate its true companion, the missing half of its true and essential being.) Rodrigo and Azucena have been abruptly, inexplicably parted after just one night of supreme love, during which they have formed a single being that ""danced through space to the rhythm of the music of the spheres."" It turns out that they have been swept into a bloody conspiracy by a deeply evil spirit to corrupt the largely blissful world of the future. Rodrigo has been dumped onto a hellish planet, and faces an unpleasant death unless Azucena can rescue him. After a series of increasingly broad and sketchy adventures (in which Azucena's guardian spirit, a variety of gods, and some truly weird technology are brought into play), all comes right. Whenever Esquivel is celebrating ""the hidden order of the world,"" the salvational possibilities of love, she's engaging and persuasive. But the novel, which comes with a CD featuring arias and Mexican danzones (presumably to foster the right mood in the reader), and which includes several gaudy, comic-book-like sections illustrated by the artist Miguelanxo Prado, finally seems too anxious to overwhelm, too determined to entertain at any cost. There's enough here to demonstrate that Esquivel can write, and that she possesses considerable originality. Next time out, though, she needs to try a little less hard to astonish.