Friday, August 12, 2011

Mephisto Aria by Justine Saracen

Publisher:                  Bold Strokes Books

Justine Saracen works her magic once again and proves that an old story can be given a new twist that keeps the story vibrant and interesting.  Her concept in Mephisto Aria is based on Faust and the idea of selling your soul to the Devil to get what you want.
Katherina Marow is a rising star in the opera world when she receives word that her father has committed suicide.  She returns home, discovers his journal and makes astonishing discoveries about his past.  Though she continues her career, she is constantly drawn back to the journal and her father's attempts to resist temptation.  Katherina is facing her own temptations in the form of her married co-star Anastasia Ivanova.  When their love seems impossible, Kaherina is seduced by Gregory Raspin, a mysterious figure who seems to radiate evil, to appear in a new version of "Faust" that is scheduled to be performed on Walpurgisnacht (Witches' Night).  Katherina sees an opportunity to appear on international television and rise to the top of her profession.  She has no idea how dangerous this production is intended to be and what is going to be asked of her.  Katherina's father was destroyed by not being able to resist temptation.  Will this be a case of like father, like daughter?

Saracen's books are always full of detail about the environment, people and history in which a book is set so that the reader feels like she is part of the story.  Mephisto Aria is no exception.  It is apparent that Saracen has spent time in the opera world with the little details she includes that add richness to the scenes.  In fact a criticism of the book could be that there is almost too much detail sometimes because it gets in the way of the plot moving forward.  That is a minor aspect though because of the complexity of the characters and subplots.  She manages to weave the aspects of the Faust story through the book without completely stealing the plot of the original classic.  The underlying theme between Katherina and her father, that someone you think you know might be very different, flirts through the rest of the story giving it a deeper meaning.

Mephisto Aria shows that lesbian fiction can contain very intricate, sophisticated stories, yet tell them in a way that the reader can easily understand.  It should provide the reader with some very enjoyable hours of entertainment.

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