Local writer Ethard Van Stee has created a sweeping novel or history, romance, mystery and the occult.
Readers of Ethard Van Stee’s new novel Madimi are in for a treat. This is a beautifully composed book with an exciting, action – packed story, almost a saga, that will appeal to an audience of wide-ranging tastes. It is a rich mixture of history, sex, mystery, and the occult. It is not for the squeamish or faint-of-heart.
I think it was Somerset Maugham who said a good story is one that makes you want to keep reading on to see what happens. That’s the way with Madimi.
Mystery fans and admirers of Edgar Allen Poe will love the gripping tale for the many involved and intertwining plots and how they are affected by the individual motivations of an array of human beings.
History buffs will appreciate the underlying verisimilitude given by a plethora of factual details about the character of notable figures arid sites ranging from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Like the Waverly novels of Sir Walter Scott, Madimi gives us vivid images of the way people lived in those days, from servants in the kitchen scullery to lords and ladies in the palace reception rooms.
Those interested in the occult and supernatural will be fascinated too. The foundation of the story is the supernatural power of a mysterious “Codex,” an elaborately decorated collection of ancient manuscripts which casts its curious spell over people through various subsequent generations and, indeed, centuries. What mysterious forces influence our lives over which we have no control? Sure, it’s far fetched, but not as extreme as the Harry Potter tales, for instance.
Thus we are given an insightful look into the people’s lives through several different eras of the past millennium, an intimate view into the life and times of notables and commoners alike. At the same time we are drawn inexorably along by the mystery and intrigue of these stories, all tied together with the devilishly overriding force of the Codex and its magical powers, which for the most part are as mysterious to the people involved in the story as they are to the reader.
Like the best of fine fiction, while the story is far-fetched, it is so well constructed and vividly told that the reader finds himself right in the midst of the action, believing and feeling as though he were there himself.
This is definitely an adult book. There is graphic violence and horror, far-out sex and pagan sexual rites, devilish intrigue and many more macabre deeds and machinations, even grotesque and repulsive, tied together with threads of truth based on the actual history and true characteristics of various by-gone times.
Readers who enjoy good literature will draw pleasure from the rich vocabulary and fine language structure they will find in this work. As in reading the works of Waugh or Menken or Fadiman, they may enjoy having an unabridged dictionary nearby to satisfy their curiosity regarding the meaning and usage of various archaic or unfamiliar terms.
We are taken on a romp through Europe, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. From the Popes in Rome, to little— known cities and rivers in the Holy Roman Empire (later Czechoslovakia), to the mysterious secrets hidden in Hadrian’s Wall near the Scottish border. Besides referring occasionally to our unabridged dictionary, we may also have the urge to look into our history books and atlases to learn more about what we see along the way – people and places, kings and castles -– but are reluctant to put the story down long enough to do so.
Like some of the characters in the tale, we may ask ourselves what it is that we believe in. As we see the wars between good and evil, between God and the Devil, we may wonder which side we are on. It seems that we no longer believe in something because it is true; it is true because we believe in it.
It is a joy to see good novels set in the matrix of the existing myths, legends, and historical background of Western civilization. They are just as rich and exciting as any of the manufactured Tolkien stories, but have a direct connection with the underlying foundation of our own culture and lives from ancient times to the present day. Whatever is your interest, you will find it here.
Available now at Beaufort booksellers and online from amazon.com and other Internet booksellers.