Author: Jamie Fessenden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant.
Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.
When I finish a work by Jamie Fessenden, I always have to take a minute to reflect on what I just read. It isn’t a book hangover, precisely, more just getting straight in my mind everything that just happened. Fessenden packs so much into his plots, characters, and prose that you can enjoy them time and again and pick up new and interesting details each time. After my moment of reflection, I have a moment of panic about writing the review of the work. I don’t feel worthy to review his work… ever.
Since reading Screwups all those months ago and falling completely in love with Fessenden’s writing, I have been slowly working my way through his backlist. Murderous Requiem was the final novel on his list that needed my attention. I will be reading and reviewing the holiday novella The Meaning of Vengeance shortly, so watch for that review soon.
I had the pleasure of listening to Fessenden read a passage from Requiem during RainbowCon this past year. I have had it on my TBR since, but never found the time to read it. I have finally corrected that oversight and can’t figure out what took me so long.
Actually, I know what took me so long; the blurb was a little intimidating. As with all of my favorite Fessenden (or James Erich) titles he sets Requiem in a world of which I know very little. In this case, it takes place in our world and our time; it isn’t a fantasy or a historical, but it delves into the occult in a way I wasn’t sure I would enjoy. However, Fessenden’s treatment of the subject is intelligent and astute. He puts the reader into the world and teaches you about the world at the same time. I was never left confused or off-kilter in the world, even though he delved into subjects for which I had little or no prior knowledge.
There are a number of elements that make this story what it is. Each of these elements, whether corporeal or not, play a significant role in the events of Murderous Requiem. To me, the mystery was secondary to the world Fessenden created and the people within that world.
Jeremy is our hero. He was one of the founders of “The Order” but left The Order and his lover of many years eights years before the start of our story. He is now a professor of music at a local New Hampshire college. He is drawn back into the fold of The Order when his expertise with ancient manuscripts (of the musical variety) is needed. Jeremy was not an immediately likable character. It took me some time to warm up to him. I had to get used to his way a going about things, I guess. He is an expert in his field, and as such he makes no bones about his level of knowledge. He also has had eight years out of the fold and brings some fresh eyes into a fairly insular society. Not everyone appreciates his point of view or pseudo-interloper status.
Bowyn is our love interest and former best friend. He is the lover who chose The Order over his relationship with Jeremy all those years ago. Jeremy is determined to keep his distance, but Bowyn has other ideas. He also has some other secrets that Jeremy will have to get past.
Seth is the spiritual leader of the order. As a narcissistic hedonist, he is also a well-known for his carousing ways. He is the one that purchased the manuscript in question and brought Jeremy back into the fold. He was also part of the reason Jeremy left all those years ago.
Alex is the mother hen of The Order. She is a strong woman with a good head on her shoulders, despite (or maybe because of) her history in the hippy movement. She makes sure all the members of The Order are well cared for and keeps The Temple running. Probably one of my favorite female characters in an M/M title in a while.
If Alex is one of my favorite female characters in a while, Marianne is one of my least favorite. I would go so far as to say she is a manipulative bitch, but she is too transparent and pathetic to pull it off. Fessenden wrote her well; she just isn’t very likable. At least not for me.
Rafe is Seth’s current bed partner. I can’t say love interest, because I honestly don’t think that Seth knows what love is, and I am pretty sure Rafe’s ego wouldn’t allow him to belong to or with someone. To everyone in the house, he is just the most recent in a long line of Seth’s conquests.
The final character that plays a significant role in the Requiem is Christopher. Still a teenager but with a past full of horrors no human should have to face, he has come to The Order for salvation.
The Order is a somewhat of a character in its own right. Some would call it a cult, but I think of it more along the lines of a commune with a set of spiritual beliefs. However, those beliefs are somewhat fluid and based in ancient teachings, magic, nature, and the occult. Honestly, the entire Order fascinated me.
The final essential element of this story is, of course, The Requiem itself.
It is an ancient piece of choral music that just might have some deadly consequences. This piece shows that music can be a powerful force in and of itself. Given the strange occurrences around the Temple as parts of the Requiem are deciphered and performed, that theory may just be proven right.
When you combine these elements, a little bit of mystery, and Fessenden’s clean and compelling prose, you get a story I was unable to put down from the start.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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