The Secret of Life

An Adventure Out of Body, Into Mind

Fiction - Visionary
310 Pages
Reviewed on 07/01/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

The Secret of Life: An Adventure Out of Body, Into Mind by Stephen H Martin is a metaphysical novel that revolves around Claire, who is navigating the complex emotions surrounding her father's debilitating illness. After her father, in his unstable condition, mentions the name 'Angelique', Claire is propelled on a quest to unearth his obscure past. Assisted by Jeff, Claire discovers her father's survival of a devastating volcanic eruption in Martinique fifty years prior and his lost love, Angelique, providing some understanding of her parents' complicated marital history. Claire is immersed in themes of love, destiny, self-growth, and life's total interconnectedness. Guided by a spiritual healer, or quimboiseur, Claire ventures into the spiritual realm for even greater insight into her father's love for Angelique and the power of this love that transcends time. As she braces for her father's imminent death, Claire finds comfort in the lessons learned from their woven histories and the enduring power of their shared love.

I wanted to read The Secret of Life by Stephen H Martin because I am in the stage of life where, like Claire, I am faced with the prospect of the loss of unknown parts of my family history as the final generation before me prepares for their next journey in the afterlife. I felt deeply connected to Claire's very human drive to explore familial roots when threatened with their extinction, provided with hope when considering that all may not be lost, and heartened by her determination when she embarks on the pursuit and lands on the history of a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean. Martin conveys Claire's dedication beautifully and the landscape of the places she traverses, both here and outside the physical world as we know it, is almost cinematic in its descriptiveness. Dream-like sequences rarely pan out well in literature but Martin not only makes them work, he makes them work wonders for Claire's character arc. The 'real world' is also represented realistically as we see the simple rituals of plucking one's eyebrows against a backdrop of a consciousness that witnesses a natural disaster and observes ethereal beings emerging from a radiant source. The Secret of Life is a lovely adventure and a heartfelt, thought-provoking story that leaves room for more to come. Very highly recommended.