Recycled Review: The Reincarnationist by @MJRose

Recycled ReviewsToday’s Recycled Review is of The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose, which I first reviewed on March 4, 2009.

cover reincarnationistI’ve always been fascinated by the idea of reincarnation, so when I discovered this book, I had to read it. This is the first in a series of six books, all of which I have read. The entire series is listed here at Goodreads.

After being injured in a suicide bombing in Rome, photographer Josh Ryder starts having flashbacks to two previous lives: one in 19th c. New York, the other in Rome c. 390 AD. The earlier life is more compelling, both to him and the reader, as he was a pagan priest in love with a Vestal Virgin at the time when all pagans were being persecuted by the now-powerful Christians.

Problem is, he doesn’t believe in reincarnation, so he goes to the Phoenix Foundation, which only treats children troubled by past life memories. Josh is given access to the foundation’s library in exchange for photographing their work. When the tomb of a Vestal Virgin is uncovered outside Rome, the archeologists discover the perfectly preserved skeleton of a woman Josh knows was named Sabina, and a box containing six precious gems that may be the fabled Memory Stones that can reveal past lives. But someone will kill to possess the Memory Stones. As past and present collide, Josh and archeologist Gabriella Chase embark on a life and death quest to decipher the stones.

The plot is very complex but the story moves along nicely. I liked the reincarnation theme and I loved the book right up to the ending, which I found abrupt and shocking. (What can I say, I’m a romance reader. I’m used to the HEA.)

I enjoyed the quotes from famous people interspersed throughout the book, like this one from Rudyard Kipling:

They will come back, come back again,
As long as the red earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree.
Do you think he would squander souls?

The Reincarnationist is an excellent thriller and a great opener for a series, just don’t expect a romantic happily-ever-after ending. Still, I liked it enough to read the sequel, The Memorist, which I loved. I recommend this series highly.


Recycled Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances by @MJRose

The Book of Lost Fragrances
by M.J. Rose
Paranormal Thriller

The intriguing notion at the heart of this book is that an ancient Egyptian fragrance could be the key to unlocking the mysteries of past life.

For generations, the House of L’Etoile in Paris has created exclusive fragrances, but now the business is in trouble. The family patriarch is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and children Robbie and Jac (Jacinth) must find a way to save the company. Jac wants to sell two of their premiere fragrances, but Robbie is certain that if Jac, who has a superior nose, will help him, they can find the lost elusive fragrance of memory. Jac, a skeptic, dismisses his ideas. Robbie has an ulterior motive. A converted Buddhist, he hopes to find the lost frangrance and give it to the Dalai Lama to help the beleaguered Tibetan people. He enlists the help of Griffin North, Jac’s former love.

As a child, Jac suffered from schizophrenic episodes made worse by the scents in her father’s workroom. (Or were they memories of past lives that the young Jac had no way to process?) Since finding psychological help from Dr. Malachai Samuels, a familiar figure in previous books in this series, she has kept her distance from the family business. Then Robbie disappears from the House of L’Etoile, leaving a dead body behind, and Jac and Griffin must work together to find out what happened.

I really enjoyed this book. The main plot about the lost fragrance is quite fascinating and takes the reader from the present day to Ancient Egypt and Revolutionary Paris. The subplot about Chinese attempts to prevent the fragrance from reaching the Dalai Lama complicates matters, as does Malachai Samuels’s attempts to obtain the lost memory tool. In previous books, Malachai has been a suspected villain, even coming under FBI surveillance, but he now seems determined to clear his name.

I found the book fascinating, both for plot and the ambience. MJ Rose was clearly inspired by her research into the history of perfume. The book doesn’t have the happy ending I wanted but it was satisfying nevertheless. I have read the entire series and this is one of the best, along with The Memorist. I’m hoping there will be more.


First posted at Flights-a-Fancy 12/5/12