Mask of the Night

Mary Ryan, Author
Mary Ryan, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-312-16925-1
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Hardcover - 530 pages - 978-0-7838-0380-7
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Beyond-the-grave passion entwines lives from 17th-century Italy to 1960s Ireland in this fanciful tale of reincarnation and magic from Irish fantasist Ryan (Glenallen). Near the end of WWI, young Jenny Stephenson finds an antique carnival mask and, having donned it, glimpses a mysterious figure from the past who calls her to come to him--or he will come to her. And come he does, by possessing shell-shocked Irishman Theo O'Reilly. It turns out that these star-crossed lovers are only the latest incarnations of a Venetian couple doomed to an eternal return in other people's bodies--and, as we soon discover, they are not the last. Combining intrigue, romance and the macabre, this intricately plotted tale is several cuts above the genre. Perceptive psychological descriptions of wartime trauma, marriage and the delicate balance between possessiveness and freedom in love ground the story's fabulous elements in everyday life, while apt use of letters and diaries moves events along smoothly--though some readers will wish that the novel spent more time with its most intriguing characters: the original Venetian witch and the powerful Inquisitor whose beauty and black arts prove so troublesome for future generations. (Dec.)
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