In this romantic fantasy debut, a young woman who can see peoples’ auras learns that she’s part of a larger clan, one a militant cult wants destroyed.
Megan Byrne can see the glowing auras of those around her. In downtown Kansas City, Missouri, she just glimpsed a man with a dark aura drain a young woman’s life force. Megan knows she witnessed the exact same scene 24 years ago, when she lived the life of San Francisco woman Kat Weiss. When Kat killed herself to escape this evil man, her hidden core identity of Rhiannon was reborn as Megan. This time, Rhiannon panics and ends up in the psychiatric ward of St. Michael’s hospital. After a brief stay, she’s picked up by her childhood friend Greg, who knows about her strange ability to push people into making decisions in her favor. Next, Rhiannon decides to visit Kat Weiss’ grave in California. Traveling through Kansas, she attends a lecture by author Zerik Denali, an expert on reincarnation with whom she forms an instant—and sensual—bond. Examining Rhiannon’s aura, Zerik reveals that she is an “aeternan,” one of Those Who Do Not Forget, and has lived many lives. Much later, at Kat’s grave, they encounter Dead Monks belonging to The Guard, a clandestine group focused on eliminating the powerful aeternans. Starting her series, debut author Elder draws readers into a complex hidden society, complete with its own language and sexual mores. Every element of the narrative is densely layered, from Megan’s traumatic childhood (in which she was molested by her stepfather) to the individual powers (called e’drai) of each aeternan. The prose often drifts into potent lyricism: “The universe was a puzzle, woven through with elegant conflicting threads, songs whispered within the heart of potentiality.” Though the opening points toward a thriller, the second half features a Rhiannon who’s comfortable among her extended family. The story’s main theme is that of enlightenment gained through open sexuality, but Elder explores this a bit too long before concluding the chase. A tighter pace would help the sequel.
A solid debut layered with flashbacks, eroticism, and emotionally dynamic characters.