Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review - Revelation of Fire

Revelation of Fire by Alla Avilova
The Permanent Press
288 pgs.
Advance Readers Copy

Revelation of Fire is a thoroughly enjoyable read and is, to me, reminiscent of the Russian masters. Like them Avilova has a firm grasp of human nature and an unnatural insight into the soul of the common man. Her characters are compelling, real and absolutely believable and the numerous mysteries kept me turning pages at a furious clip. I have to admit that as a true Science Fiction fan this type of story is not my usual bill of fare but it proved to keep me enthralled throughout and is written with a poetic and masterful hand.

Alla Avilova’s fascinating novel pursues a mystical text, Revelation of Fire, through various historical eras. The book is touched and touches various individuals who perpetuate the spiritual mysteries contained within the book. From sixteenth century monks to cold-war literature experts the books provenance is tracked through history and eventually finds its way to the Russian SCHA library where it rests in obscurity. When a Dutch literature researcher requests the book the curators find that the book has disappeared and the search is on.

Little by little the protagonists, Bert and Nadya, fit many unlikely elements together, revealing a sequence of events and random connections that defy rational explanation. In truth, they build upon small unraveled vignettes of past owners (well, keepers) of the book and in due course locate it but in an attempt too remove it from Moscow they lose it.

The book is partially a mystery with elements of suspense and to a degree a dissertation on spiritualism. If there is anything wrong with this book it is at the 100 page point where the author attempts to explain the spiritualism everyone seems to be chasing. It felt a bit preachy to me but fortunately it is only drawn out for a few pages.

Avilova’s wonderful settings are compelling and she’ll draw you in to the spirit of each location. Russian landscapes, hermitages, cold war apartments, and a 19th century fishing village force the reader to examine each location closely and you are transformed there.

The climax, appeared to be a bit of a let down at the time, and contained no new real mystical teachings but I soon learned that that wasn’t the point. The crucial purpose of the story was the personal revelations of the ordinary people who discovered the Revelation of Fire and were touched by the mysticism within it and how it changed their lives. For this reason alone I suggest you purchase this book today and make it a permanent addition to your collection.

5 of 5 stars

The Alternative One
January 22nd, 2009
Southeast Wisconsin

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