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Quietus    by Vivian Schilling order for
by Vivian Schilling
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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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.

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