ROOTS OF EVIL by SARAH RAYNE.
Lucy Trent is used to having the legend of her glamorous grandmother unearthed from time to time - the infamous silent-screen actress Lucretia von Wolff, whose life ended abruptly in a bizarre double murder and suicide at the Ashwood film studios in 1952. Lucy quite enjoys Lucretia's legend, although the rest of her family would prefer it to be quietly forgotten.
But when a body is found in the now-derelict studios, brutalised in a macabre echo of the 50-year-old case, disturbing facts about the past begin to emerge ..... Facts which point back to the eerie legend of the child known simply as Alraune. The child named after Lucretia's most famous film. The child who may never have existed at all.
In the ensuing murder investigations, Lucy is to discover the truth about her family's dark and often poignant history - a history which spans the glittering concert halls of 1920's Vienna to the bleak environs of wartime Auschwitz. And at the heart lies the shocking truth about the mysterious child called Alraune.
....... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): It is not every day that your family's ghosts come boiling out of the past to disrupt your ordinary working day.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 430): He has never known the ordinary world, thought Alice, only this dark hopeless place. So he may see nothing horrific in what they are about to do, and he may be unaffected by it. And then, far down in her mind, she thought: but I don't want him to be unaffected! I want him to be capable of pity and compassion - to be able to put himself in another's place - to feel hurt when a friend hurts.
MY THOUGHTS: By no means the easiest of reads, Roots Of Evil is definitely a contender for the most confusing and possibly frustrating book I have ever read.
Flitting back and forth between present day England and 'cousins' Lucy and Edmund, 1920's Vienna and the 'birth' of the enigmatic Lucretia von Wolff, and the concentration camp of Auschwitz was difficult enough but even more confusing was that the whole novel reminded me of a jigsaw puzzle that slowly, piece by piece, is seemingly coming together to reveal the whole picture until you realise several pieces seem to be missing.
Intriguing rather then enjoyable, one of those books I feel I shouldn't have liked and yet did. Dark and yet sinister in a somewhat understated kind of way, at times, gruesomely graphic, it read like a Gothic horror novel. At others like the worst kind of 'slasher' novel though, oddly enough, with echoes of Shakespeare's King Lear.
Without a doubt a very different read and one well worth persevering with (thank goodness all of the pieces did eventually come together even if it was sometimes hundreds of pages later) despite all of the largely implausible twists and turns of the plot and fairly stereotypical characters.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Not a book I'll be buying, My thanks to Leanne for the loan of it.
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