Book Review: My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

Summary:

mstk-coverWhen Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami. Instead, David vows to invoke a forbidden ritual to keep Jessica and his daughter with him forever.

Harrowing, engrossing and skillfully rendered, My Soul to Keep traps Jessica between the desperation of immortals who want to rob her of her life and a husband who wants to rob her of her soul. With deft plotting and an unforgettable climax, this tour de force reminiscent of early Anne Rice will win Due a new legion of fans.

Goodreads

Thoughts:

Wow, what a book. This story is an interesting mix–part thriller, part horror, part fantasy…and somehow those elements not only worked well together but created an enthralling story that I had trouble putting down.

I don’t want to do what a lot of others have done and compare this to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire because I feel like that’s doing this book a disservice. In a lot of ways it’s much better than Interview because not only is it an engaging story that is full of lush, atmospheric writing featuring immortal characters but it also explores its history from a more interesting perspective which lends more weight to it.

I’ll admit I had a hard time loving the characters in this one, but that wasn’t a detriment for me like it is most of the time. Characters don’t have to be likable in order to be engaging and I felt both Jessica and David’s stories were compelling. David’s back story is revealed throughout the course of the book through flashbacks as he has lived other lives in other times with other lovers. We see how he became an immortal and the group of other immortals that he belongs to who call themselves scholars. David is selfish in his love for Jessica and Kira! He does things that are truly reprehensible in order to keep his secret and keep his family by his side. And yet…through seeing his back story you kind of understand why he’s doing what he does, not that it excuses his actions but at least you can understand them. Jessica…I find it a little harder to articulate exactly why she rubbed me the wrong way. In some respects she’s just as stubborn as her husband. But she’s also, strangely enough for a reporter, terrible at communicating with David. There are instances where problems could have been solved if they had just talked things out a little more. This isn’t all on her, of course, as David is a lying liar who lies so he’s always full of evasions anyway. Even so, I found following both of them to be an interesting ride, as they seemed to be dancing around each other’s truths so much. This lent a great deal of tension to the story.

There are a lot of themes explored in this book including faith, love, and ethics, but the one I found most interesting was the one of time. David is an immortal and has lived for over 450 years. And yet instead of seeing time as some long tunnel yawning endlessly before him, he sees each and every moment as something precious, something to be cherished instead of squandered. Because of his own immortality he is ever aware of each passing moment when it comes to mortals and he spends a lot of thoughts on wondering why people waste so much time when they have so little of it in life. I’ve read a lot of books with immortal characters over the years and while I often see these characters struggling with time and their relation to passing years because it’s so different for them than other people, I’ve never really come across an immortal who was so aware of time passing as to become obsessed with never wanting his family to be away from him because he’s afraid of losing those moments with them. David’s struggles with time aren’t lamenting that he’s immortal and seeing himself as different (ah, the brooding immortal is so common), but instead seeing mortality as weak. He’s convinced himself this has never been a problem before until he comes to love his current family so fiercely that he starts to fear ever having to let go of them.

Of course, David’s lies about who he really is and his selfishness regarding his family is what creates all of the plot. All of those carefully constructed lies start falling apart and as Jessica’s learning the truth everything begins happening at a fast pace. It’s a slow crawl which ramps up quickly to Oh-Shit-Ville. I absolutely loved the creeping tension in this story. There is a horror element to things as well, especially when Jessica realizes that the man she thought she knew is not what he really seems. But there are other things that create tension as well, like the others from David’s group being concerned about him becoming entangled in these mortals lives too much and wanting him to end things.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic read on many levels. I will definitely be reading other books in this series. 4.5/5 stars.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I thought it was a great read for a lot of reasons. Not your typical vampire book for sure. The characters were really interesting even if I didn’t fall in love with them. πŸ™‚

  1. Tammy says:

    Wow, I’m so glad you reviewed this. I’ve seen this book floating around but I never knew what it was about. Definitely on the list to read when I have more time!

  2. Kristen says:

    So glad you enjoyed this! I read it years ago and immediately bought the sequel (and shamefully haven’t read it yet). If you read it before I do, I’ll be interested to see what you think of it.

  3. Susy's Cozy World says:

    This was an amazing review! I think that this book is too much on the horror side to be of my liking (I don’t know why, but horror books tend to bore me to no end, even when people love them and find them amazing) but your review is captivating!

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    What an interesting angle! An immortal who does not look at mere mortals as inferior beings, but rather as people to be commiserated because they can’t grasp the worth of the single moment.
    I will have to give this one a look indeed…
    Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah it was interesting. That’s not to say that mortals don’t sometimes become collateral damage, but they try not to kill and have rules about becoming too involved in mortal affairs. It was a great read!

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