M.J. Rose's Seduction is the second installment in the story of perfumer and mythologist Jac L'Etoile (after 2012's The Book of Lost Fragrances). Reeling from emotional loss in the wake of her last adventure, Jac reconnects with a troubled childhood friend, Theo Gaspard, on the Isle of Jersey. Though she plans to investigate Celtic ruins, Theo has a very different sort of mystery in mind. The island was once home to French novelist Victor Hugo, who, after the death of his oldest daughter in 1843, became deeply entrenched in spiritualism in an effort to communicate with her spirit. Hundreds of the séances that Hugo participated in were transcribed and published, but Theo believes that there are additional transcripts, left hidden by Hugo on the island, that detail a monstrous offer made by a spirit Hugo called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

Rose's work tends to be complex, resisting easy genre classification. Part thriller, part historical mystery, with supernatural elements and a dash of romance, Seduction is, first and foremost, a damn good read. It is also a nuanced, evocative portrait of the human mind beset by sorrow and uncertainty. Juggling many threads, Rose weaves three seemingly disparate plots to a shared ending that is as inevitable as it is surprising. Seduction will leave longtime M.J. Rose fans pining for the next installment and send newcomers scrambling to get her previous titles. --Judie Evans, librarian

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