A literary novella about worlds within worlds, with an intriguing layer -- the written word rising off the page and taking on a life of its own -- The Flowers of Spring creates a verbal labyrinth, drawing the reader simultaneously into the minds of the characters, the narrator, and the author.
The Flowers of Spring employs old-fashioned language that at times waxes florid as it imitates the classical genre: “his metamorphism into a wanton animal compounded his shame, for she had glimpsed his fractured nature.” It begins with a mother relating a long-ago tale to her grown son, the book’s narrator. That tale opens with a simple incident: a wealthy nineteenth century industrialist, John, sees a young woman, Sonia, pick a flower from his garden. Instead of feeling his usual possessive anger at her action, he instantly falls in love with her. Other prominent characters are Thomas, John’s only confidante, and Edith, Sonia’s friend and unofficial guardian. As the book progresses, these relationships intertwine in romance, menace, and finally tragedy.
But the subplot, presumably the “real” story, concerns the narrator and his mother. Only she understands the link between apparent fantasy and a demonic reality that arches over the novella to the end.
Clarke is a practiced writer who wishes to create in the language and lore of the classical literary period. He deftly avoids anachronisms while keeping this Poe-reminiscent tale surging with richly contrived revelations on every page.
Intelligent fans of gothic horror and classic fiction will thoroughly enjoy The Flowers of Spring.