When Maya dies she finds herself in somewhere akin to heaven. She is keen to be reunited with others she has lost but instead finds herself at the start of a journey, lead by her spirit guide Zachariah. Before she is able to move on she has to review her past lives and show she understands the lessons each incarnation should have taught her.
This is the start of a series and in this book Maya relives pasts as a High Priest in ancient Egypt, a Spartan mother hiding a secret, a young Irish boy captured by Vikings and a Doctor's wife in plague-ridden London. She must prove she has learnt one of the important lessons before experiencing more of her past lives. In each story there are other characters who re-appear, recognisable by minor physical characteristics.
I have to admit I was both impressed and slightly concerned by the foreword. The author has a website which includes more detailed research about the facts behind the work, which I thought was a real positive, but it also mentioned that to prevent confusion from the intricate character histories there was a chart at the end of each life to help identify the characters. This sounded a bit disconcerting, being told up front I might struggle to keep up! As it happens I found that I was able to identify the main characters with no real problems and didn't need to keep trying to refer to the charts at all.
I really enjoyed this book. I'm a fan of historical fiction anyway and the idea of reincarnation is of interest, so I found this an interesting meld of the two. By the time I got to the end I was so engrossed with the progress through history that I'd almost forgotten about the context holding the stories together. Each life was full of interesting little details and mostly I was able to identify approximately where and when the life was unfolding without too much prompting from the author. Some of Maya's incarnations are more likeable than others but each has a good story to tell.
This was a very good read that made me think, and I thought the magical realism surrounding Maya's arrival in "heaven" and how the process she finds herself going through works was well handled where it could have been fudged. I would definitely read the next in the series, Infinite Devotion.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*