The Golden Manuscripts

Between Two Worlds Book 6

Fiction - Literary
345 Pages
Reviewed on 05/30/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The Golden Manuscripts by Evy Journey follows a young woman named Clarissa who feels connected to two medieval manuscripts and wants to solve the mystery around their disappearance in this sixth stand-alone book of the Between Two Worlds series. Two point-of-view characters narrate in the first person against the backdrop of World War II and the early noughties, with fluctuation of decades between. The first point of view is an unnamed WWII soldier who steals the manuscripts and keeps them, justifying his actions as payment for what the war inflicted on him, and later identified as the story progresses. The second is Clarissa Martinez, a mixed-race American college student whose obsession with finding the stolen manuscripts brings up some uncomfortable pieces of herself. Searching with Clarissa is Nathan, a young man who has a history with Clarissa's brother Arthur and is uniquely qualified in the art of illumination.

In The Golden Manuscripts, Evy Journey transports readers into a contemplative exploration of history, mystery, and personal discovery. The movement between Clarissa and the soldier's timelines, and a third into Clarissa's earlier years, is fluid and comfortable. The pain of the soldier and his intermittent remorse come across as authentic and Clarissa's motivation in bridging the manuscripts with a coping mechanism of her youth highlights the originality of Journey's plot in a relatable context. Looting in war is not new and neither is selling the spoils of war back to the country of original ownership. The topic becomes more convoluted still when we bring in art taken by colonizing nations that are still hanging in their museums today—just ask The Met. Clarissa is unambiguous in her thoughts about the art market and stolen masterpieces, known and largely unknown, and while questionable provenance on a larger scope is not as straightforward, when a soldier outright steals from a church doesn't make Clarissa's moral argument a tough sell. Bonus points to Journey for making the California city of Emeryville, usually only associated with Ikea or Amtrak, a setting. Very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

The Golden Manuscripts: Between Two Worlds Book 6 by Evy Journey starts in April 1945, when a soldier discovers hidden treasures while on guard during World War Two. Fast forward to the 21st century and graduate assistant Clarissa Martinez contacts manuscript expert Nathan Adler, intrigued by stolen illuminated manuscripts and turning them into a thesis. Clarissa and Nathan decide to investigate rare manuscripts together, suspecting they were stolen during World War II. As their research progresses, they uncover evidence of Allied soldiers' involvement in looting. They trace the theft to an American soldier and hatch a plan to track him and the illuminated manuscripts down. Meanwhile, Clarissa spends time with her brother Arthur, contemplating her family's past, her heritage, and a longing for a reconnection with her mother.

The Golden Manuscripts is an interesting mystery and Evy Journey does well in balancing the overreaching plot of locating who took the illuminated manuscripts, which are dated between the 9th and 15th centuries, and the character arc of Clarissa overcoming a personal identity crisis. As a woman born in San Francisco to a Tsinoy mother and an Irish father, I did connect with Clarissa in many ways. I was raised with a very firm appreciation of my genetic make-up and in the cocoon of total diversity that has been San Francisco's hallmark from as early as the 1980s until I moved in 2000, whereas Clarissa lived in a hodgepodge of countries where her ethnic ambiguity left her out as an 'other' often. The writing is well done and although I did find the conclusion with the manuscripts to be slightly underwhelming, the cross-continent search and details of art, and artifacts in general, were wonderfully exciting. Overall, this is a solid stand-alone novel and a pleasure to read.

K.C. Finn

The Golden Manuscripts is a work in the literary, cross-cultural, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It forms the sixth novel in the Between Two Worlds collection, each of which is a stand-alone story focusing on multiracial women and the pursuit of their passions through travel. Penned by Evy Journey, this tale is inspired by the historical theft of medieval manuscript illuminations during the Second World War. Our displaced hero of the story is Clarissa Martinez, who uses her love of art to seek a deeper connection to her past and find belonging. So when she is embroiled in seeking out the missing manuscripts, she discovers more about what’s missing in her own life.

Evy Journey has crafted a slow-moving masterpiece of character study, culture, and more profound sentiments that will captivate literary fiction fans everywhere with its psychological and emotional intelligence. The novel blends several genres into its central character-driven plot, from cross-cultural writing and coming-of-age self-discovery elements to a fascinating historical mystery and plenty of travel writing to bolster the atmosphere and enhance the emotional themes. The novel comes to life like a gorgeous painting, and the deeper you explore it, the more detail and richness are revealed to you. I especially enjoyed Clarissa’s exploration of her daughter and prospective mother role and how those elements blended cyclically and satisfactorily. Overall, I would recommend The Golden Manuscripts for fans of immersive literary fiction with plenty of deep character-based drama.