Received from author for review
Sheppard Smyth has always been drawn to Cleopatra VII–her life and her death–and has spent most of his professional career trying to prove his theory that she was murdered. While most of the academic and archaeological community has scoffed at his assertion, the one person who believes him is the one person that matters most: his wife Christine.
While on a dig however, tragedy strikes and Christine is killed in a cave in, leaving Shep to fill the void she left with copious amounts of alcohol. After a few years pass, Shep is called by a former colleague to fly to Mexico in order to confirm a spectacular find involving his former obsession.
Once there, Shep is introduced to his colleague's assistant, Victoria Kent, and told the entire dig is funded by rumored Russian mob boss Dmitri Kronastia. When Shep confirms the authenticity of the items found in Mexico, he realizes the history of the world as he has known it is irrevocably altered, and his life just got significantly more complicated. Shep begins to piece together a new view of the past with the help of Dmitri and Victoria just in time for the future to come crashing down around him as the Mayan prophecy of 12.21.12 and its link to Cleopatra VII creeps ever closer.
12.21.12 combines various mythologies from both the Mayan and Egyptian cultures to create an intriguing millennia-spanning mystery that beautifully blurs fact, fiction, and the paranormal. Though this story makes reference to historical figures, the tale woven between its pages incorporates entirely new elements into the lives of people we know existed, making the reading experience an interestingly imagined jaunt through past, present, and future. The supernatural aspect of the story is seamless in its execution, the beliefs of both the Mayans and the Egyptians in multiple powerful gods paving the way for paranormal believability. Our curiosity as to the hows and whys of that element is then ultimately satisfied while our imaginations are thoroughly entertained.
In addition to a riveting and suspenseful story, we are also given access to complex characters. Dmitri and Victoria are individuals who are both villainous and unrelatable when they project their seemingly indifferent view of society, proceeding to take lives when they deem it necessary while sparing barely a moment to dwell on the loss. Then, just as we're convinced of our negative opinion of them, their entire demeanor shifts to reveal moments of true emotion and vulnerability, and a beautiful humanity shines through their otherworldly facade to make us realize these two are more than they initially seem to be on a multitude of levels. Reading to see what layer of their personality will be peeled away from one page to the next is one of the most engrossing aspects, and one that makes us feel as though we've been given our own private mystery to solve as we find ourselves trying to sort through our reactions to each of them in an attempt to come to an emotional conclusion.
While 12.21.12 is an entrancing blend of mythologies with characters who force us to think about them even when we shut our eyes at night, sometimes the complicated connections between all the pieces of this puzzle cause us to blink in confusion as we attempt to digest everything we've learned. Characters from the present are not only linked to one another in various ways, but they are also connected to figures of the past as well which at times pulls us from the story as we have to flip back to prior pages to completely comprehend the relationships. Overall, however, this book is unique and suspenseful with diverse and multifaceted characters all coming together to create a very memorable read.