Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Visions of the Damned by Jacqueline Marten

Released: 1979

Visions of the Damned is Jacqueline Marten's debut novel released in 1979, and combines elements of reincarnation and undying love. Sound familiar? Revisit my review on Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine here: Dreamworld Book Reviews - Lady of Hay.

Like Jo in Lady of Hay, Michael (our female protagonist, ladies and gentlemen) undergoes hypnosis and discovers she existed in a past life alongside a few of her lovers. Of course everyone in the present has a doppelganger in the past, so we can pretty much guess who is who along the way.

Although Visions of the Damned is a swell enough novel to stand on its own, I can't help comparing it to Lady of Hay because of the similarities! Both books were written during an era where male chauvinism and masculinity still ran dominant in our culture, and the pompousness of the male characters in both novels will make modern women of today absolutely gag.

The prose of Visions of the Damned is very beautiful, and it is incredibly easy to envision Michael's "Ladies", a duo of women from Edina's life in the 11th century who provide premonitions to Michael -- Edina being Michael's alter-ego in the past. From a character standpoint, I love Michael but I hate Reed because he is too creepy and domineering. Don't get me wrong, I love aggressive, sexy men, but Reed is completely over the top. I blame this on the year 1979 though; not Jacqueline Marten.

The main con to Visions of the Damned is the fact there are zero breaks within Edina's 11th century life story to revisit Michael during the present time. The past-life regression into Edina's life feels too long, drawn out, and tiring. I believe the novel would have been more stellar had Marten intertwined the stories of Edina and Michael and switched back and forth to stretch the suspense. The most magical part of Visions of the Damned comes at the very end of the novel when Michael realizes who her true love is.

After all is said and done, I have come to the conclusion that Jacqueline Marten is a hidden gem I never knew existed, and would be happy to pick up her novels if I come across any in the future. It has been difficult for me to find synopses of Marten's seventeen other novels, but I'm willing to take the gamble.

Jacqueline Marten's latest novels are Moonshine and Glory (1994), Just a Kiss Away (1995), and Darcy's Kiss (1996).

Carina Press: Your next great read!

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