Constant Guests is a book about the first Tarot ever made. A Parisian party girl uncovers four lost and found stories related to a tarot deck from 1389. This book is a hybrid novel, swinging between history, mystery and fantasy. Some readers consider it a thriller.
Like the novel Cloud Atlas, the story moves forward and backward in time, entailing different characters and scenarios. From a spiritual teacher in Patmos, c.100; to a faux-bishop in Tuscany, 1389; to Mara, a onetime timid museum curator in Transylvania, 1971; to present time, Nedelea effortlessly spins the disparate threads into a collective whole.
Nedelea’s descriptive skill is impressive (one character, for example, is “a short unremarkable blonde with a face like a seal’s.”) Her locales paint a perfect sense of place, with pinpoint specificity of sights, sounds and even smells. And her literary tour of medieval torture devices? Explicit—-and chilling.
The author’s craft and creativity (plus the glorious tarot card illustrations) are superb.
Constant Guests is an engaging, notable debut.
Constant Guests is an intriguing story with an unusual narrative that artfully blends history, fantasy, and romance.
At first blush, Constant Guests seems like a historical thriller akin to The Da Vinci Code, but there is more here than meets the eye. The seemingly disparate plot lines provide hints and clues while building up an interesting mythology. The story is actually a blend of historical fiction, adventure, and a tinge of science fiction and fantasy.
CONSTANT GUESTS walks a fine line in terms of plotting, and although it features many literary moments, the story at times reads like something out of a gripping thriller, and manages to take the best of both genres. And as intricate plot twists surface, the author expertly juggles a large cast of characters. While at first they might be overwhelming, each is well developed, unique, and memorable. Despite being billed as historical fiction (parts are set in the Middle Ages and the Roman Empire), the majority of it is set in or close to the modern day, and it maintains a pleasant balance between the two that makes it a pleasure to read.
CONSTANT GUESTS is an imaginative ride effectively brimming with ideas, characters, and plotting.
Nedelea’s fiction debut approaches this familiar The Da Vinci Code pattern with great scene-setting vigor, a natural-feeling grasp of dramatic pacing, and some fractious chemistry between Isa and Mark that’s no less entertaining for being intensely predictable. At one point, Isa asks him: “Are you really a weirdo, or are you just pretending to be one?” The well-orchestrated climax pulls together all the various plotlines with an enjoyable degree of flair.
A complex, engrossing archaeological thriller with a plot stretching over many eras.
Constant Guests combines different elements of storytelling to deliver a literary treat that readers will find irresistible, the kind of work that will appeal to lovers of fantasy, thriller, and mystery. Patricia Nedelea seems to have done her homework and her work features compelling historical elements, a bubbling imagination, and characters that are hard to let go. The reader is hooked from the opening lines of this interesting novel. The girl wakes up behind bars and has a hard time determining why she’s locked up. Her recollections of the previous night offer readers a powerful glimpse of her personality and set the tone for the entire story. The writing is polished and reads smoothly. I was most impressed by the powerful plot lines and the seamless integration of different historic moments into an absorbing story.