Rating:

Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Susanna Kearsley made a fan out of me with The Winter Sea, and I have happily been reading every other novel of hers that I have come across. Mariana is the newest Kearsley title that I had the pleasure to read, but it lacked a lot of the magic and enchantment I discovered in The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden.

Mariana is the second book of Kearsley’s to be published, and explores similar themes to that of The Rose Garden. After Julia Beckett was given a sizable inheritance, she could not resist purchasing the historical Exbery home that she remembers from her childhood. Julia is drawn to this home, and the history of its former inhabitants, particularly that of Mariana.

Greyweathers, Julia’s new home, is said to have once been haunted by a specter called the Green Lady, who has not been seen for nearly 30 years. As Julia becomes acquainted with her new home, she starts to experience the past through Mariana’s eyes, discovering that she is Mariana reincarnated.

As always, I adored Kearsley’s beautiful prose and poetic language, as well as the vivid descriptions of countryside and landscape. Mariana didn’t have a lot of the romance that can be found in her later works; I just never felt fully invested in Mariana’s forbidden love affair with the dashing Richard de Mornay, or Julia’s interest in Geoffrey de Mornay, whom she believes to be Richard reincarnated.

I wish several of the supporting characters had had more page time, especially Julia’s fast friend Vivien, and Julia’s brother Tom. Those who are reincarnated are said to surround themselves in their new lives with people from their past, and I was a bit confused by who everyone was supposed to be. Some I figured out, but I was clueless to the rest.

Mariana has quite a few twists and turns, and an ending that I had considered, but never thought would come to be. Once it did, though, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me in a lot of ways, but mostly because I felt it wasn’t developed well enough to be a true reality.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Also by Susanna Kearsley: The Rose Garden and The Winter Sea

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.