Rupetta

N.A. Sulway. Tartarus (www.tartaruspress.com), $55 (352p) ISBN 978-1-905784-50-9
Sulway's refreshingly original fantasy is spun from two alternating story lines whose expertly plotted convergence spans 400 years of an imaginative alternate history. The first is the narrative of Rupetta, a partly human simulacra with a clockwork heart who protects and instructs a succession of human "Wynders," sharing with them the wisdom she has accumulated since her creation in Languedoc in 1619 and helping them to shape a world dedicated to "Eternal Life through Knowledge." The second is the story of Henri Bellmer, a history student living in a present where Rupetta is revered like a god, and Penitents of the dominant Rupettan sect aspire to "Transformation": the replacement of their organic hearts with mechanical hearts. Henri's study of an obscure corner of Rupettan history for her thesis eventually twines her destiny with that of Rupetta, with whom, she is surprised to discover, she shares a unique relationship. Sulway (The Bone Flute) uses rich and evocative prose to pull the reader irresistibly into her tale's vividly rendered alternate Europe and its centuries of human power struggles. Her profound reflections on human frailty and the price for everlasting life seem as much a bonus as an integral part of its telling. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
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