Friday, December 12, 2008

Review - "The Reincarnationist" by M.J. Rose

A bomb in Rome, a flash of bluish-white light, and photojournalist Josh Ryder's world exploded. From that instant nothing would ever be the same.

As Josh recovers, his mind is increasingly invaded with thoughts that have the emotion, the intensity, the intimacy of memories. But they are not his memories. They are ancient—and violent. A battery of medical and psychological tests can't explain Josh's baffling symptoms. And the memories have an urgency he can't ignore—pulling him to save a woman named Sabina—and the treasures she is protecting.

But who is Sabina?

Desperate for answers, Josh turns to the world-renowned Phoenix Foundation—a research facility that scientifically documents cases of past life experiences. His findings there lead him to an archaeological dig and to Professor Gabriella Chase, who has discovered an ancient tomb—a tomb with a powerful secret that threatens to merge the past with the present. Here, the dead call out to the living, and murders of the past become murders of the present.
The Reincarnationist was released last year in hardcover and recently in paperback to coincide with the release of M.J. Rose’s followup novel The Memorist, which I will be reviewing tomorrow. The Reincarnationist is a contemporary supernatural thriller that explores the theme of reincarnation.

While the Phoenix Foundation is a centre of research, principally working with children psychologically impaired by their phantom memories, it also actively seeks alternate physical proof of reincarnation, and in particular is looking for “Memory Tools”. These are ancient and historical artifacts that when properly used can induce past life regressions in anybody, a potentially incredible source of knowledge and power. It is this search that drives many of the characters and events of the story.

Josh is sent to Rome to liaise with an archeology team sponsored by the foundation that may have located one of the fabled Memory Tools, a set of memory stones buried with the last of the Roman Vestal Virgins in a tomb from the 4th century. Josh himself has been experiencing seeming past life flashbacks since surviving a terrorist bomb the previous year. He is skeptical about true reincarnation but is nevertheless drawn into the foundations orbit and senses a connection to Rome and the dig. Visiting the dig he experiences more powerful memories directly connected to the entombed remains of the Vestal Virgin.

While there, one of the Professors in charge of the dig is murdered and the Memory Stones are stolen setting off a series of events leading to murder, kidnapping and betrayal. Josh’s flashbacks to his 4th century incarnation are deftly woven into the narrative giving emotional weight to his current life experiences, illuminating the karmic connections between the stories vying characters and revealing the origins of the Memory Stones. The historical sequences are richly and authentically detailed as are the various locations in which the story takes place.

Intrigue and mystery surrounds Malachai, one of the main characters who is a key strategist at the foundation. He is obsessed with finding Memory Tools and the author portrays him in a manner that leaves you guessing his motivations and degree of involvement. Unusual connections abound between the many players in this drama, some arising from past lives and others issuing from the course of events, all coming together in a carefully choreographed tale with a bittersweet ending.

The Reincarnationist is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller built on a clever premise with engaging characters. It is a little outside the usual urban fantasy/paranormal box, but I think readers of those genres would definitely enjoy this.

Read an excerpt.

Published: October 2008
ISBN #: 9780778325765
Format: Paperback
Pages: 464

View the book trailer . . .


  1. I'd like to read this series! It has such an interesting premise.

  2. Lady_tink M'J.Rose kind of does for reincarnation what Dan Brown did for secret religious societies.

  3. Do you remember Aaagh! It's the Mr Hell Show? I recently remembered it - well, this bit...

    "Hi, my name is Josh, and I'd like to talk to you about reincarnation..."

    And I just realised that the character in this book is named Josh. Think M. J. might be a closet "Mr Hell" fan? ;-)

    Have a lovely day! :-)

  4. Hi Tez I have to say my cartoon education is sorely lacking. Haven't heard of that one myself but it wouldn't surprise me if M.J. Rose has.


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