An exploration of reincarnation and spiritual growth, written by a mother and father who claim to be channeling their deceased son’s words.
After Ricardo K. Petrillo’s death in 2005, his parents came to believe that they could receive messages from him, via “automatic writing” through his father. Petrillo and Knoploch have since published five collections (Planet Janus, 2011, etc.) of such writing, and whether readers appreciate this sixth entry will largely depend on whether they’re onboard with the authors’ premise. This book comes with an additional source of confusion: Its fictional main characters are actually two different incarnations of one individual. Elderly Julius attempts to explore his past lives, and so we meet Daniel, a young spiritual seeker during the French Revolution. Through a series of political and personal travails, Daniel comes to understand the consequences of individual actions and emotions, and he strives to help those around him achieve a similar level of spiritual serenity. In one of the many authors’ comments sprinkled throughout the book, the reader is told: “Ah, if only men and women could understand how these emotions affect their lives….If they could open themselves to those that care and are just expecting an opportunity to help, they would change the world.” Sincere, didactic and deeply Christian, the narrative circles around and around these themes of eternal love and personal responsibility, and Daniel’s various dilemmas are likely to engage the spiritually curious. Daniel himself, however, remains frustratingly vague. He achieves a state of preternatural calm and detachment, but it’s never quite clear how he does so, and his near-angelic characterization makes it hard to relate his life to that of the everyday. The language can be distracting as well; it’s often florid, as when Daniel is introduced with these words: “Youth! What a marvelous time of life in which energy and vitality abound to support the thoughts of a mind thirsty for knowledge and ideals.” Hindered by trite phrasing and underdeveloped characters, the story ultimately lacks immediacy.
A well-intentioned parable, full of big ideas but short on emotional intensity.