From the moment I saw the cover for Seven Times a Woman by Sara M. Harvey, I was in love. The style, color and details were mesmerizing. From the moment I picked up the novel I was sucked into a fantastic world that spanned the ages in a tragic, beautiful love story.
I think the summary provided by New Babel Books really gives you a good taste of the story woven into this world:
In a mythic reflection of old Japan, the kistune Rei-Rei is given the seemingly small errand to “tame a dragon” that will part her from her true love, Inari, for lifetimes to come. Reborn through seven lifetimes, Rei-Rei fulfills her pledge, remaining the steadfast love of Sha Tano the Dragon — no matter how many times she is murdered by his dark twin, Kage and his minions. From courtier to courtesan, Rei-Rei comes into each life knowing that her destiny lies with the dragon prince but something deep in her soul sings of another lover in another time. With every incarnation, she pieces together the fragments of her existence and strives to find a way to complete the impossible task and finally go home. When the dark dragon Kage learns of her true nature, he seeks to strike a blow that will destroy his noble brother, and Rei-Rei, forever.
I had some reservations going into this about how the reincarnations would be handled, wouldn’t the story get repetitive? But it never did. Each lifetime is an entirely new story that builds on and entwines with all the ones before it, and all the ones that follow. It is truly a tale of the ages that spans centuries.
Sha Tano is not the ideal man, he is not a romance hero walked into the world to make a perfect love story. He is damaged and dark in his own ways and reading as he struggles with himself, his love and his world really makes him a truly rounded and fantastic character. Even his brother, Kage, who at first seems to be such a simple character, but he too grows and evolves into something I never expected.
The story wrapped me tightly around its finger and I couldn’t put it down. I was fascinated and intrigued, trying to figure out how this tale was going to end. Was there going to be a happy ending? How? The twists and turns at the end made me gasp out loud (much to the amusement of my coworkers) and drew me in even deeper.
The story has several layers, that tie each lifetime together and keep the story cohesive even with the constant change of the character. The change is one of the strongest aspects to the book, and is handled with the grace of a seasoned author. Reincarnation is not an easy task to write since each incarnation is the same person, but still someone different, and Harvey does this seamlessly.
In fact, if I had one critique, it would be that some of the lifetimes seemed so infuriatingly short. I understand that if each lifetime went into deep detail then the book would be seven times as long, but I loved the characters so much that I wanted that detail.
The writing is beautiful. Harvey’s style is elegant and sharp-witted, just as the main character, Rei, is. I can’t think of the last time I found a novel written in third person where I felt the author’s voice was such a perfect representation of the story. She knows her history and incorporates the details with ease. The kimonos, silk, tea and language instantly transported me to Japan.
I cannot recommend this book enough, and if you have even an inkling of interest in Japan, mythology, or incredible love stories then pick this book up. If you enjoy reading a well-crafted, well thought out story then pick this book up. Seriously, go get this book now.
You can find the book in both ebook and physical book form here.