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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Book review: The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Sara Gran is the author of six previous novels, including Come Closer and her acclaimed crime series starring PI Claire DeWitt. She also writes for film and TV, including ‘Southland’ and ‘Chance’, and has published in The New York Times, The New Orleans Times Picayune, and USA Today.

Publisher: Dreamland Books (February 8, 2022) Page count: 319 Formats: ebook, paperback, audio

REVIEW: Lily Albrecht married a wonderful man and enjoyed a successful life as a writer. Then her husband became ill, and everything got worse. Much worse. Having lost her passion for writing, she became a rare book dealer in constant need of money.

At a book fair, a bookseller friend asks her for (paid) help in obtaining an extremely rare grimoire on sex magic. The Book of the Most Precious Substance describes how to awaken occult powers through X-rated rituals involving consensual sex and bodily fluids. All in five steps.

The richest people in the world want it badly and are willing to pay any price for it. With the help of her charming friend Lucas Markson, Lily travels the world to find the tome. The two visit New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Munich, and Paris to meet potential buyers and owners of the book. They turn obsessed with it and explore the rituals themselves. As in, they have lots and lots of sex.

Fortunately, The Book of The Most Precious Substance has much more to offer than just the steamy parts. It's a tense, fast-paced thriller with good (effective, economical, and moving) writing and a nuanced heroine. Lily is haunted and lonely, smart but also hot-headed. When we meet her, she's living a reclusive life without much joy or pleasure, focused on her business, bitter memories, and the care she must provide for her husband. Sex and the rediscovery of pleasure are crucial to Lily coming back to life. 

The sex here is explicit but not over the top or pornographic. That said, if sexuality bothers you or you don't like reading about it, you may not like The Book of The Most Precious Substance. Suffice it to say that the titular precious substance is a female ejaculate.

The occult/fantastical elements are present but, asked to categorize it, I would say it's a thriller with a dash of supernatural elements. The author makes great use of the book-within-a-book concept. She includes references to dark magic books and authors to thrill readers and give them more material to dig into. Magic in the book works, but its effects are subtle. Also:

It works. It's real. You can get what you want. Whatever you think will make you happy. But the problem seems to be that most people are wrong about what will make them happy.

While the plot gets repetitive, the author packs a savage twist near the end. I loved it. In all, I had a blast reading The Book of The Most Precious Substance and I encourage you to try it.


1 comments:

Darwin said...

Great review. Thanks a lot;)

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