This ambitious novel tells the story of an up-and-coming opera singer as she discovers her musical talents can accomplish miracles.
Matilda begins her career at a well-known opera house, eager to perform. Her joy is marred, however, by the arrival of an ex-boyfriend, fellow singer Martin, who quickly proves himself an arrogant, egotistical womanizer determined to manipulate her. In addition to dealing with Martin, who readers soon learn is part of a conspiracy to prevent her from tapping into her full abilities, she also starts having unusual dreams concerning memories of a tragic love affair in 18th century Venice, involving two male singers. She quickly realizes she was one of these singers.
As the novel progresses, Matilda is drawn further into Martin’s plot, under the orders of the devious instructor Giorgio. Giorgio, possessing the power of mind control and a shared past life with Matilda, has been ordered by a mysterious Tibetan monk to ensure she never achieves her full potential. She must rely on her small group of friends to overcome these machinations and embrace her higher calling. Along the way, she encounters mystical occurrences, such as past-life experiences, lucid dreaming, and the power of the human voice to control minds and heal injuries, even cancer.
Some skeptical readers may find the supernatural features off-putting, but author Susanna James uses them sparingly, establishing their origins at the start and gradually revealing their importance. The sheer length of the book (610 pages) may also seem daunting, and the prose contains problematic punctuation that a thorough copyedit might have avoided.
Still, the characters are memorable and the story engaging enough to keep readers moving, even those not knowledgeable about opera. For all the supernatural forces, at its heart, the novel is concerned with human feelings — mainly love, jealousy and hate — to which any reader can relate.