Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Review: Heart of Eternity, by N Jay

Heart of Eternity is an unusual book in several ways. It is difficult to place it within a particular genre. It has elements of romance, and elements of what might loosely be termed ‘paranormal’. I use this term only very loosely. The paranormal element consists of a spiritual battle that takes place between and within the two main protagonists, Naida and Jay. Forces of light and dark confront each other. My understanding is that these are not to be seen as actual entities, but as manifestations or representations of the light and dark sides of their personalities. Or, perhaps, as manifestations or representations of the ‘divine’ powers underlying reality. This book, therefore, contains elements that might be called ‘spiritual’. I commend the attempt to deal with such issues within a fictional context.

Naida is a young woman suffering from cancer. Jay is a ‘bad boy’, whose life has become dark following certain events in his life. The other main character is Naida’s uncle Zachriel, who is a spiritual healer. Naida seeks out his help, in a town in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales; and there she also meets and falls in love with Jay. What ensues is the story of Naida’s attempts to heal herself and Jay.

One of the difficulties I had with this book was that I struggled to see these people as ‘real’. Too often they seemed to be no more than vehicles used by the author to express a deeper point. I never really felt that I came to know them as people. This was particularly true of Naida. What, for instance, does Naida do for a living? Was she in any kind of relationship when she became ill? She seems to have no history. Despite the fact that we were taken, at times, very deeply into her inner life, I felt that I knew nothing about her. I knew slightly more about Jay’s life. We are at least told early on that he is a professional rock climber. We understand that he has been through some kind of traumatic relationship.

At times the lengthy descriptions of the characters’ inner lives became quite tedious. Sometimes less is more. There are other less direct and more subtle ways of expressing this inner life, without always having to spell it out explicitly for the reader. I also think that a little more action in the external world would have made the story more interesting. We at least see Jay actually doing some things early in the book. But the external world is eventually almost completely subsumed beneath the internal world. As far as the actual love story between Jay and Naida is concerned (the ‘inner’ battle aside), it seemed somewhat clich├ęd: ‘good’ girl attracted to ‘bad’ boy.

The book is written in a fairly wordy and flowery style which some readers will find off-putting. While I am prepared to accept that some of the language may be deliberately poetic, sometimes it is simply poorly expressed: the English is not quite right. Consider phrases such as these:
  •           I will remain bended...
  •          ...that had protruded her stomach...
  •          ...recklessly lingered out...

I appreciate poetry, metaphor and the creative use of language, but I am not convinced that many of these rather odd phrases were intended that way. English is probably not the author’s first language, and she could use some help with getting the idiom correct.

I would have enjoyed this book more if the ‘inner’ story—the battle between good and evil—were more deeply embedded in day to day life, and within a stronger external story. I would have appreciated the spiritual aspect more if more attention had been paid to flesh and blood. Having said that, I admire the author’s intention to explore this kind of spirituality within the format of a novel, even though I don’t share the author’s worldview. I just think it would have worked better with more ‘novel’ and less exposition. This issue and the language problems aside, I am inclined to give this book three stars.

[Note: I was provided with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

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