Book Reviews

Mystical Paths by Susan Howatch

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List Price: £15.99


Paperback: 480 Pages.

Published: 04 October 2010 by Harper

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 0006496873

EAN: 9780007664153

Reissue of the author's most famous and well-loved work, the Starbridge series, six self-contained yet interconnected novels that explore the history of the Church of England through the 20th century.


2.0 Stars2.0 Stars  by Debra Found


This is the second in the Starbridge series but I read it as an independent book. I don't feel that I missed out by not having read the previous book in the series and it does state in the blurb that the books can be read as stand alone stories. In this book we follow the story of Nicholas Darrow, mainly in his late teens and early twenties. Nicholas is the son of a psychic minister of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Nicholas trains to become a priest himself and sets about trying to counsel, heal and psychically read everyone in sight with generally disasterous results. He becomes obsessed with the death of a friend, Christian Asygarth, and sets out to prove that it wasn't suicide.

There is a story in this book somewhere but I found it very difficult to locate and even harder to continue to follow its thread. This book is littered with religious and psychic language and discussions which I didn't always manage to follow and, to be perfectly truthful, had little desire to follow. It really got very tedious and took over the entire book. I have no doubt that the author intended this and for some it would be interesting but it really wasn't the sort of book that I found relaxing and enjoyable to read.

Nicholas Darrow was a hypocritical, pompous, over-sexed young man who was full of his own importance. He seems to take great delight in bedding every woman in sight despite plans for ordination and an engagement. The group of friends with which he spends considerable time seem to lurch from one promiscious relationship to another whilst battling drink and drugs. They are really not a particularly nice group of people and I found that I was not enjoying reading about them. Nicholas also seems to rebel at any form of authority and launches into seances and attempts healing despite being told not  to as he isn't strong enough. The result is a shambles.

I found this book tedious and not enjoyable. This rather took me by surprise as I have enjoyed so many of this author's works in the past. I couldn't find any characters that I particularly liked and was uninterested in Nicholas Darrow's lurches from one crisis to another. All I wanted to do was shake him and tell him to keep his trousers on and do as he was told for once in his life. I will not be searching out any other books in this series. I shall also take great care in choosing other books by this author - I do not wish to get caught up in this religious/psychic world again.

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