14 January 2015

Book Review: Dark Prayer by Natasha Mostert

dark prayer book review image 

*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads description (x): 
Eloise Blake is on the run from a life she can no longer remember. And from a killer who will stop at nothing to protect a secret as old as time. From the award-winning author of SEASON OF THE WITCH comes a thriller about memory, identity and the murderous consequences of a quest gone wrong.

My rating:  4 out of 5 hoots

four stars hoots owl review 

 As you can see in my earlier post, I decided this year to take on the "Around the World" reading challenge where I track on a map the places characters in the books I read travel to. It was so exciting visually spotting where everyone went to, not just imagining it! I can't wait to do this with every book I read this year. 

Reading Dark Prayer, an enthralling novel all about memory (and parkour), was a stretch for me at first. I thought the parkour segments were going to be too far out of my comfort zone because I wouldn't understand half of what was being explained, and I figured from what was first detailed that the memory bits would leave me feeling fatigued because the author would go too in-depth.

What I came to realize was that the book was actually surprisingly easy to read. Easier than I would've thought, by far. And that's what made it so enjoyable. Although this is the first book I've read for 2015, it has already made me want to read more for the year because everything just flowed so well and was so well-written. There were a great deal of quotes that I wanted to...quote...

quote memory soul book dark prayer image

 I came to learn a lot about parkour, or free running, and like I said on my Facebook page, reading this book made me nostalgic for my high school days when I saw a few buddies try it out. My friends, of course, were just beginners compared to these characters. Jungles, the name of the most skilled free runner of the bunch, is pretty much a ninja, and the author does a great job of describing how he (and the others) ran and climbed and jumped. But that doesn't mean the author of Dark Prayer treats you like you're automatically knowledgeable in the ways of imagining someone free running. Instead, Natasha Mostert lays the sport of parkour out in a way that is understandable to us amateurs without being condescending to those who actually have a good grip on the skill.

You could tell extensive research had to be done--both in parkour and in psychological matters. There's even a link to a real article in the Kindle edition of the book. In college, I minored in Psychology and volunteered at a traumatic brain injury rehab facility. So I like to think I know a fair amount about memory (and the absence of it). At least, I'm interested in it. The way Mostert incorporated aspects of psychology--especially regarding memory and trauma--into the life of main character Eloise was fascinating because it was realistic. However, I never once felt like I was reading a case story or out of a textbook when it came to these points.

Our main character is caught in a fugue state--this is what has caused her to wipe out all memory loss of her former and original self, Jenilee Gray, and to establish a new self, Eloise Blake. She has created new memories for herself. A new mother, a new father--circus performers. A new name. A new identity. If you think about my previous book review of Stella Bain and to PTSD, this almost sounds similar, doesn't it? Well, both do revolve around memory.

I've often thought how neat it would be to create a new identity for myself, leaving my past behind. But I wouldn't be me; I want my memories, all of them. The problem with Eloise, however, is that she did not consciously form for herself a new identity. And maybe there's something else going on behind the scenes. Gasp.

Now, there is another main character--named Jack--that I haven't meant to leave out, necessarily, but I just didn't find him to be that appealing. He wasn't near as interesting to me as Eloise, at least. But I can't leave out his name because 1) He's important to the story. And 2) I'm about to make a joke about him.

If you do decide to read this book, you'll be surprised at how fast you fly through it.
If you don't, then at least take these pointers I learned along my reading journey:

  • Forming a science group based in part on Aleister Crowley's own teachings is a good sign of what you should never do. 
  • If you go to a house where someone just called you from and the front door is wide open with no one answering your voice, please back your rear end up, get into your car, and put it in drive. 
  • If nightmares always seem to end with someone getting scratch marks across the face in books like these, shouldn't someone just trim their nails? 
  • Lastly, I don't know about you, but if I was a free runner and my name was Jack, I would call myself "Jack-B-Quick," wouldn't you?? Cue laughter.  (Okay, less of a caution and more of a joke, but still...)
And on that good note, I'm off to read another book on this nasty, chilly day!

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