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Floats the Dark Shadow

Floats the dark shadow

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
Floats the Dark Shadow:
by
Yves Fey
Publisher: BearCat Press
Pub. Date:
August 2012 

ISBN: 9781937356217

Pages: 322
Genre: Historical Mystery

2013 IPPY Awards: silver medal
2013 Next Generation Indie Award finalist in Mystery and Historical Fiction category
2012 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist
Source: Received
from the author

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This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

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MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

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Historical mystery becoming more and more my favorite genre, and remembering my crush on Gilles de Rais as a teen (well, the Gilles de Rais BEFORE Joan of Arc’s death!), I gladly accepted to read Floats the Dark Shadow when the author Yves Fey contacted me. Le me tell you why this book should be better known!

The book opens in 1897, in Belle Époque Paris, its inhabitants still remembering the violent days of La Commune. As an exchange for inside information, a criminal asks  police officer Michel Devaux to investigate the mysterious disappearance of kids.
Then we meet Theodora Faraday, Theo, a Californian painter now living in Paris. She’s been invited to attend a concert in the Catacombs, in the company of the Revenants (The Returned). Discovering herself kids she knew disappeared, she intends to do anything she can to identify the killer before he can do more harm. But her views clash with the officer’s who is sure one of these decadent poets did it.
He relies on traditional investigation methods,but she has the courage to confront the world at the edges between good and evil, to try to decipher the meaning of a mysterious drawing found near each victim. She is convinced the profile of the murderer is more complex than a poet in need of dark excitement. Will she be able to face her own troubled past and shadows to find that monster who considers himself a new Gilles de Rais? Could she face the truth if he is someone she knows or even loves?

I need to give you here the same warning I have given you for Baudelaire’s Revenge and for Irène: the book has some absolutely horrible pages, that will make you cringe. In case you don’t know your French history, let me remind you that Gilles de Rais is one of the most notorious serial killers in France, famous for disemboweling hundreds of children…

BUT the writing is just as absolutely sublime!
The descriptions of Paris streets, of the landscape, of the faces, as seen by the painter Theo, are really fantastic and so evocative. The author makes you not only see, but also smell the events in all their beauty and horror.
And the suspense has an incredible crescendo around the identity of the killer.

The ambiance of the time is so well recreated with: 

  • the necessary absinthe!
  • the catacombs, le Grand Guignol, and the dark attraction towards the macabre and the occult
  • Incidentally, I don’t think there was a famous group of poets known under the name of the Revenants, but that’s the perfect name for the tastes of the period, and there are indeed some famous poems with that word in the title
  • the important presence of another tormented poet, Huysmans, before his conversion to Catholicism!
  • the anarchists, planing a bomb against le Sacré-Cœur!
  • the social issue of the place of women in society, especially in the world of the arts
  • the beginning of cinema
  • the awful fire at the Bazar de la Charité

And look at that cover! So perfect! Along the same line, I highly encourage you to watch the incredible trailer that describes so well, with its pictures and haunting music, the ambiance of the book.

In the book, I learned that at the end of the 19th century, police had not yet perfected the technique of finger printing. They were using instead the more difficult and time consuming technique of anthropometry.

And when I studied the philosopher Henri Bergson, I was never told he had a sister, Moina Mathers, specialized in the occult! She is very present in the book, with Tarot cards and a very important scene for the plot of the mystery.

Each chapter starts with a short quotation by rather dark poets, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Wilde, Lautréamont, etc, that helps also give the tone. Even William Butler Yeats shows up!

The only difficulty I had with the book was its tiny font. That’s where ebooks get really convenient with the possibility to increase the size of the font!

VERDICT: Have you ever wished you had lived in Belle Époque Paris? No more regret: plunge, at your own risk, in Floats the Dark Shadow, and under the remarkably atmospheric writing of Yves Fey you will experience the city in all its beauty and horror. Dark and macabre historical mystery at its best.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She’s tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend—could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France—Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again. [from the publisher]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yves FeyYves Fey has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eugene, Oregon,
and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA.
She has read, written, and created art from childhood.
A chocolate connoisseur, she’s won prizes for her desserts.
Her current fascination is creating perfumes.
She’s traveled to many countries in Europe and lived for two years in Indonesia.
She currently lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and three cats.
Writing as Gayle Feyrer and Taylor Chase, she previously published unusually dark and mysterious historical romances. [from the publisher’s site]
Be sure to visit the author’s website with tons of fascination background documents and information, and read excerpts of the book.

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
Any good historical mystery you have read recently?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN A COMMENT PLEASE

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