Have you ever had a compulsion to do something even though you strongly suspect that it won't turn out well? When Jeremy Spencer of 'Murderous Requiem' by Jamie Fessenden is offered an opportunity to study and translate what could be the find of the century, there's no way he can turn it down. Jeremy knows that returning to the organization which, at one time, meant everything to him, will conjure up all kinds of demons, but even this doesn't dissuade him. He's willing to take the risk, not just for the prestige he can acquire, but for the sheer joy of being able to translate a musical document which few people had even seen.
When Jeremy decided to leave the order, he left his heart there with Bowyn, the love of his life. He knows that going back will dredge up all the old feelings both good and bad. It's a constant struggle for Jeremy to maintain his balance while indulging in the temple's liberal life-style. In some ways, it's as if he never left; in others, he's painfully reminded of his reasons for not staying. His relationship with Bowyn, or the dissolution of it, is what hurts the most. Jeremy makes the decision to be with Bowyn in every sense of the word while he's there even though he knows he will leave heartbroken and despondent.
Besides the fact that he's promiscuous, there's an aura of serenity, intelligence, and understanding around Bowyn. He's obviously still very much in love with Jeremy and is elated at having him back even if for a little while. He's irresistible in so many ways and guides Jeremy back into the rituals and hierarchy of the Order which Jeremy, like it or not, slips into with little difficulty. Jeremy can't pass up being Bowyn's lover again anymore than he can resist a chance to work with the document, regardless of the consequences. His only reservation about being back at the temple surrounds a young man named Christopher, who from the beginning haunts him. He's not at all sure that Christopher belongs there in such a morally loose atmosphere since he's been abused, but everyone there assures him that Christopher is fine and he's where he wants to be. When Christopher was introduced into the story, I could feel that he was a tragic figure, not in control of his life. He is a lost soul who comes to the Temple with great expectations of becoming more proficient in the teachings and practices of the occult, but there is s foreboding aura around him. He may look and sing like an angel, but underneath lies a lot of darkness.
Seth, leader of the group, is handsome, charismatic, megalomaniacal, highly-sexed, overbearing, self-righteous, and a self-serving individual. He excels at persuasion and manipulation. Like many people with these characteristics, his perception of the world is focused solely on what he deems important, regardless of the consequences. He loves Jeremy and Bowyn, as much as his definition of love allows, but is more interested in what they can do for him, as he is with everyone else. He's an end justifies the means individual, obsessed with maintaining complete control. Seth made me sad because if the power hadn't gone to his head, he would have been an important part of the Brethren rather than a detriment.
There are several other outstanding supporting characters who greatly contribute to moving the plot forward. They are also very instrumental in portraying life at the Temple and assist in the complex ideologies involved in the framework provided. It's a unique place, removed in so many ways from the real world. As Jeremy told one of the initiates: “People often do things at the Temple that they wouldn’t dream of doing anywhere else.” As disconcerting as it may seem, there are cults and other ideological groups who, even today, continue to practice ceremonial magick, cast spells, use symbols, and so much more. This story is not as far fetched as some people would like to believe. It's a lot to take in. Fortunately, I have a background in mystical things, so I appreciated the amount of effort and research Jamie must have done to at least familiarize us with a general idea of what is happening. He also left enough room for us to use our imaginations to decide what we want to believe and what we can reject. One thing which it reinforced in my mind was that it's at best dark and dangerous to dabble in things we don't know enough about. The outcome could be more disastrous than we could ever imagine and there's no going back once the intent is released. I, for one, am not willing to take the chance.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dark, mysterious stories full of otherworldly possibilities. This is not light reading by any means. It's a story which will make you think and one you will want to read and absorb. It's also a story which is full of suspense, music, mystery, intrigue, and alternative ideas. It will keep you guessing until the end. Thank you, Jamie, for the brilliant, thought provoking, educational journey into the occult.