Scent memories, momentary visions, and spiritual entities that travel through time and space mingle in this fictional account of reincarnation.
Zani, who defines herself on her website as an “intuitive medium,” makes her debut with a mystical, romantic fantasy that breaches the line separating life and death. Moving back and forth between the story of her present-day heroine, Piper, and that of a 19th-century woman named Piper, Zani weaves two intersecting tales. For the first seven years of her life, Piper had an “imaginary” friend, Vander. But he vanished, along with her memory of him. What remains is her curious affinity for the letter V. A precocious child, she grows into an independent young woman who has difficulty forming close relationships. She experiences “scent-aches,” not quite a memory but rather the actual hint of an aroma that is triggered by something other than her physical surroundings. Her greatest passion involves her horses, and she has a fierce need for alone time. She is sometimes a rather self-centered, irritating character. As Zani tracks the events in Piper’s life, she intersperses chapters revolving around the earlier Piper, a sweet girl who tragically lost her mother when she was still a child and who grew to be a loving, and beloved, daughter, wife, and mother. These visits to the past story slowly reveal to the reader the sources of the smell-aches, clues that remain hidden to present-day Piper for most of the novel. When Zani’s chapters switch to the 1800s, her phrasing becomes archaic: “when she was in her twelfth summer, Vander his fourteenth….” The language feels a bit stilted and anachronistic. And although the author’s prose is reasonably smooth, her paragraphs frequently are so long that one is tempted to just move on. They would be more forceful if they were broken into two or three bites. While the suspension of disbelief is required to become fully engaged in this narrative about a love that reaches across the great divide, the reward is the guilty pleasure of gradually unraveling the puzzle that defines a raven-haired beauty who struggles with the feeling that she is somehow “different.”
An unsettling and haunting tale of two heroines that lingers after the telling.