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Quietus    by Vivian Schilling order for
by Vivian Schilling
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Hannover House, 2018 (2002)
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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What really happened after the plane crash? Were Kylie Rose's memories of a cottage on the mountain, a spooky black raven, and beastly Watchers simply a hallucination, or did they have some basis in reality? Kylie, her best friend Amelia and her needy but beloved husband Jack came very close to dying. Many companions perished and the survivors have to cope with guilt along with a renewed terror of flying.

Quietus is a horrific psychological thriller, which weaves together NDEs (near death experiences), repressed memories and pre-biblical accounts of angels of death, that come straight out of our worst nightmares. The title is based on 'that moment of quietus' between life and death, and the story explores the nature of punishment of evil acts, fate, the passage out of life and its purpose ... as a doctor counsels Kylie, 'We stay only as long as we need to, for as long as it takes, until we're done with what we came for.'

I had a dozen theories as to the novel's direction while I was reading it. The suspense builds steadily, and the author regularly pulls the rug out from under her readers' feet. The protagonist is engaging; one wants her to fight back and to solve all the mysteries that have shrouded her life since childhood. When she eventually does so, through many trials and tribulations, the reader has gone through the wringer with her.

Quietus is an unusual novel, masterfully written, a deep thriller with a strong element of the macabre. It may not be to everyone's taste, but those who read it, will find it haunts them.

2nd Review by Rheta Van Winkle (Rating: 2):

When Kylie O'Rourke, her husband Jack, her best friend Amelia, and husband Tim board the small airplane in the White Mountains to return home after a ski vacation, little do they know that they will be flying into a terrible storm that will result in disaster. They all survive and a passing motorist happens to see the downed plane and rescues them along with one other passenger. However, Kylie has suffered terrible injuries to her body, as well as to her mind. She has disturbing dreams while in a medically-induced coma. These dreams seem so real to her that when she awakens, she's sure that she remembered walking around outside the plane in the snow with Jack, Amelia, and two of the other passengers. Frightening creatures, semi-human, were part of her dreams, and she was sure that she recognized one of them, partly because of his distinctive tattoo.

They were all found strapped into their seats by the helpful rescuer, however, so she could not have actually been walking outside the plane. Before the plane crash, she had seen a raven land on the wing of the plane, also an impossibility, and this raven appears to her again while she's in the hospital. When Kylie tells a psychiatrist about these visions and dreams, he explains that they are the result of her near-death experience, and that they would fade in time. She is startled therefore when she encounters the familiar-looking man once she's back at home and shopping for groceries. 'Though part of her knew he was a stranger, another part felt as if she had known him for years. She knew the intimate details of his face, what it looked like happy and most certainly how it appeared when he was angry.' Although she has been reluctant to share the details of her experience with anyone except Jack and the psychiatrist because it seems so crazy, 'within only a moment, Kylie was pouring out the details of the harrowing accident as if speaking to an old friend.'

As Kylie and the reader learn more about this man, the fear and horror of her initial experience take over her life. Although this book is well-written and certainly draws the reader in, the darkness of the plot made me long to finish to find out just what was going on. It is an extremely long book, with elements of death, predestination, ancient religion, angels, and reincarnation that are unpleasantly creepy. The characters are believable, some so likable and others evil. The book was written before cell phones, so whenever Kylie needs to talk or meet someone, she has to find a phone, which adds to the suspense, as this frequently happens when she's alone, and it's a dark and stormy night. I'm not a fan of this sort of book, but for those who are, it's well-researched and should keep them awake for two or three deliciously terrifying nights.

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