The Reincarnationist, by M.J. Rose begins with Josh Ryder being injured in an explosion while visiting a museum, after which he is haunted by memory “lurches”. When he has one of these lurches, he crosses time and inhabits the body of a priest named Julius in 379 A.D.. As the book progresses we find out that not only does he lurch to Rome, but he also lurches into the body of a different man in New York. After the accident Josh’s family life falls apart as the trips back into the past take on more urgency and take up more of his time. Desperate to find answers Josh begins past life research with industry leaders Malachi and Beryl who have a foundation dedicated to studying the past life memories of children, whom they believe have not been tainted by other life situations.
Josh’s work with them leads to present day Rome and a recently discovered ancient archaeological dig site to which Josh is mysteriously drawn. When Josh witnesses the murder of the chief archaeologist at the dig site, he must come to the aid of the the archaeologist’s beautiful partner Gabriella. She is in grave danger, and he suspects that there must be an ancient connection between them, but will he be able to find out enough about his past to save her in the future?
I’d heard great things about M.J. Rose’s books and was really looking forward to reading this one. Rose jumps right into the action and I was intrigued to find out how forbidden lovers Julius and Sabina were connected to Josh Ryder’s present and future lives, and also the perspectives of the other characters and their memory lurches. There was a big cast of characters and it was easy to get confused about whether I was in the past or present, but the story was interesting enough that I was engaged and wanting to get to the point where it became clearer.
I don’t know exactly what happened but somewhere along the line I lost the heart of this novel. Some plot points seemed either extraneous or obvious to me as red herrings, and there were just so many characters sliding back and forth and possibly being several different people that it was hard for me to understand and fully keep track of their connections and stories. Josh ignores mentioning a crucial piece of information about a discovery he makes in the beginning chapters of the novel. It doesn’t come up again until conveniently at the end of the story when everything falls neatly into place, and really I thought it was an obvious thing that needed to be addressed much sooner. It just didn’t make sense that it wasn’t mentioned and it bothered me through the rest of the book.
Readers who enjoy reading about reincarnation and ancient Rome may love the information that Rose has woven throughout her tale. The theories of reincarnation were well presented and easy to understand, but if you have done extensive reading on the subject you might find the the explanations to be a little thin. Rose’s writing is clear and simple and she keeps the action moving along, but ultimately I wanted a bit more depth to her story.
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