THE ETERNAL ONES
Received via Star Book Tours for review
There's a boy named Ethan. She loves him. He's her world, but something's wrong. Is he with another woman? Did he really kill someone? There's a fire burning somewhere...
Haven has lived with flashes of memory of this Ethan Evans her whole life. She's been haunted by snippets of a past life that render her unconscious, babbling of places and people she cannot possibly know. Only now they are occurring with far more frequency and a distinct feeling of urgency, and Haven realizes she must find Iain Morrow, the man who embodies the spirit of Ethan Evans in this life, or she will go crazy with want and wonder.
The tiny Tennessee town she lives in already believes she's crazy, swearing her visions are the work of a demon sent to raze the town to a wasteland of moral depravity. Leading the charge is her very own grandmother, so to escape the confines of her narrow-minded present life, Haven flees to New York City to explore a past that bring her some understanding. But with her memories of Ethan incomplete and disjointed, Haven finds herself pulled in the direction of many different truths, each as confusing as the one before, and she must quickly find a hope to which to cling before the mistakes of the past become her destruction in the present.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this novel is we begin with a love story already in progress. The relationship between Ethan and Constance is already established, their feelings and attachments cemented before we even open the first page, so instead of watching as the attraction slowly builds to the ultimate romantic crescendo, we get a deeper story, one more sumptuously complex and emotionally stirring. The courting phase is bypassed completely, providing us with a direct route to the complications that arise after the initial glow wears off and the pillars on which the relationship can truly stand must be built. The past history between Ethan and Constance is as equally important as the present circumstances between Haven and Iain, and watching as the dual love stories exist and unfold simultaneously is blissfully tragic in it's romance.
In addition to a dueling past and present, we also get a story that courses with continuously conflicting emotions, leaving us adrift in a churning sea of ambiguity without the anchor of anything definitive to keep us still and calm. Where there is the incandescent warmth of an eternal love, there is also the sharp sting and cool hollowness of betrayal. Where there is joy and hope for the reunion of Constance and Ethan, there is also the persistent fear that their happiness may not be what it seems. This emotional bifurcation keeps us hovering on the edge of uncertainty, and just when something absolute seems within our grasp, it's quickly whispered away in the haze of another life and another set of feelings, and all we are left with is the same haunting set of questions swirling with rumor of murder and deception.
Though the story is lush with both rapture and sorrow, and captivating in it's idea of reincarnation, Haven herself is a bit frustrating. She starts out capable and independent, standing up to the cruelties of a positively villainous grandmother, but once she gets to New York City her ability to make decisions and formulate an opinion begins to waver and she's tossed helplessly back and forth between the poisonous whisperings of those around her. She believes everything she's told with a shocking quickness, completely reversing her previous position time and again. Some indecisiveness when confronted with not only issues in the present but also fragments of the past is to be expected, however her easy acquiescence to one truth or another happens several times too many.
Overall, Ms. Miller provides us with an chillingly romantic read, one where we desperately want to believe in the fantasy, but are constantly plagued by an apprehension that what seems so pure and true could be tainted with lies, part of a vicious cycle perpetuated from one lifetime to the next. I look forward to the sequel as the ending makes it clear that neither Haven and Iain's story, nor Constance and Ethan's, is over just yet.