Quietus is an engaging tale of love, death and survival. Vivian Schilling has crafted a well-paced supernatural thriller in her second novel. The novel starts with a group of friends returning from a friendly getaway on a small, chartered plane. After Kylie O’Rourke, the protagonist, has a surreal vision of a bird landing on the wing, the small plane crashes into the mountains, leaving only a handful of survivors including Kylie and her husband Jack. Jack and Kylie have a troubled past that comes to the light as the story develops. They are in business together as home decorators and their world is thrown into further chaos due to the plane crash. Kylie begins to see dark visions and is haunted by a person from her past that is supposed to have died years ago. As Kylie frantically tries to figure out just what is happening to her, Jack becomes more distant, sinking to depths that had previously caused trouble between the two.
Schilling does an admirable job of creating living, breathing characters. Schilling raises some very thought provoking questions and leaves the reader open to consider just what happens when a person dies. One of the main conceits of this novel is how death may be preordained and what the consequences are of people not dying when they should. Schilling brings the reader to many levels of understanding as she, through Kylie, explore the historical, religious and cultural beliefs on death and how those beliefs can form a consensus and are directly affecting Kylie. All of the exploring that Kylie does on her path to a better understanding of her situation touch upon essential and sometimes shared beliefs about our place in this world and how we leave this world.
However, only a few quibbles. One, especially as the novel draws to its conclusion, where it seems as if Schilling is attempting to do too much at once. As Kylie tries to discover more about her situation, it seems as if Schilling is drawing from too many different sources and throwing a lot at Kylie (and at the reader) to devour. Up until this point, the novel was tightly crafted and well paced. After this somewhat chaotic bump in the pacing of the novel, the story resumes its grip on the reader and ends in a rather logical fashion. Also, sometimes the past of the characters is brought up almost too conveniently when it will effect their current situation. One of the characters had a serious problem in their past, this problem is not really even hinted at until just prior to this problem creeps up again.
To sum up, despite a couple of very minor setbacks, Quietus is a quality, fast paced supernatural thriller that will keep readers enthralled. I had a hard time putting the book down and was very absorbed in the world and lives Schilling put to paper. If Schilling continues to produce novels that are as intense and suspenseful as Quietus, she will attract more readers and sustain a loyal following.Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford
© 2002 Rob Bedford