The Salem witch trials are, to this day, a grim reminder of mass hysteria and superstition. It is a reminder of the darker times when being a medicine woman or even having red hair, green eyes was considered as markers of witchcraft. These persecutions were just an extension of the much wider persecutions that occurred in many European countries where people practicing religions older than Christianity were labelled heretics and brutally executed. With a perfect blend of mystery, science fiction and fantasy, The Furies presents a new take on what might have happened had any of the true mystics had escaped the trials.
The Furies by Mark Alpert is a story inspired by these persecutions, and it in fact begins with one such persecution, where Elizabeth Fury and her daughter Lily escape with their lives. Cut to present day New York…when John Rogers meets the beautiful red-haired, green-eyed Ariel Fury at a quiet pub in the New York City, little does he know of the events that are in store for him. Soon, John and Ariel are on the run from a ruthless gang whose quest for immortality is only surpassed by their meaningless penchant for destruction. But unbeknownst to them and their leader Sullivan, the gift comes at a deadly price.
While John and Ariel team up to be the protagonists, the rebel leader Sullivan is presented as a nasty, ruthless antagonist with almost predatory instincts. Ariel’s immediate and extended family members, introduced in plenty, make up the supporting cast who fill in the much needed background for the plot. Having read the journalist Chris Cleave’s Little Bee and James Rollins’ Sigma Force series, I could instantly connect with Mark Alpert’s writing style and the plot. It was interesting to discover that Alpert is a contributing editor for Scientific American, a magazine that I had once followed voraciously. He is also an established author having publishes the titles – The Final Theory, The Omega Theory and Extinction. So as a first timer, I enjoyed reading this book on my daily commute to work. From a thematic perspective, the story reflects on the contrasting themes of love vs the harsh realities that define humanity, especially of the dangerous levels to which humans are capable of sinking if ever a means to attain immortality is discovered. Published by St. Martin’s Press, The Furies is set to release on April 22, 2014.