by Yves Fey
BearCat Press (August 31, 2012)
Ever since seeing this book’s gorgeous trailer…
I’d been eager to read it, wondering if it could possibly live up to its preview. Let me tell you, it does not disappoint. Yves Fey is a consummate artist. Her passionate, enthralling world fully involved all my senses—including the sixth. Fair warning: that enthrallment included “the fascination of the abomination” in unstinting measure.
Set in Belle Epoch Paris in 1897, here’s how the story starts: “Gilles unlocked the scorched oak door and raised his lantern, illuminating the staircase that coiled down to the dungeons of the chateau. Underneath the smell of ashes, of damp stone and lantern oil, he inhaled traces of other odors. Mold, urine, and feces, Clotted gore. Fear. The fetid bouquet blossomed in his nostrils. Repugnance entwined with anticipation.”
“Repugnance entwined with anticipation”: Gilles feels this and often so does the reader. Fey’s prose is vastly more than words on paper, vividly evoking odors, images, sounds, sensations (on the skin), and feelings (in the heart)—as many of them sinister as sumptuous. Her work clearly has been impeccably researched and fully imagined, in meticulous detail. Like the mists of Paris in the novel, these details constantly swirled, coalesced, disappeared, and reappeared in new forms in my mind. After this, my imagined Paris will always be the City of Light and Shadow.
The book’s multisensory richness is more than matched by emotional energy and complexity rarely found in characters outside the classics. The passion of some scenes nearly sets the pages on fire. There’s not a predictable personality in sight—though there are some you’ll recognize, since Fey weaves in historical figures such as Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, and the infamous child murderer Gilles de Rais, he of the “gore-sodden soul” (a compound adjective worthy of Homer).
For an expanded experience, log onto http://yvesfey.com/, the most beautiful website I’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to visit the mysterious Paris of Theo, Averill, and Michel (depicted by artists of the Belle Epoch); read and hear its poetry; and learn about its history, customs, and institutions.
All in all, Floats the Dark Shadow exerted an irresistible allure that enveloped me totally—exactly what I want from a novel. I understand this book is the first in a series. As soon as I reached the last page, I was longing for the sequel.