Review - TRINITY, Sophie Masson
TRINITY is Book 1 of the Kuldun Code Trilogy, the second book being not far away if memory serves correct. Set in modern Russia, Sophie Masson has certainly involved a wonderful sense of place and culture in this book:
"They'd left a mild gray London spring morning and emerged into a Moscow afternoon so bright blue that it seemed painted on with a lavish brush. Everything had culture-shocked her, from the sublime to the ordinary: the candy-striped domes of St Basil's cathedral flaunted against the intense sky, Red Square vast as a rolling stone plain, wide streets strung with garlands of lights, weird little railway kiosks like tiny general stores, impassive people whose faces she didn't know how to read. And most of all, the barbed wire look of Cyrillic script fencing her off from any real understanding of what was going on."
The sense of the place, and the look and feel of a stranger in that unknown, untranslated difference is really well done through-out this book. Helen has never been here before, and knows little of the place and the people, although her mother speaks fluent Russian and is used to the culture and the people. The idea that the mythical weaves its way through the people and the place is also believable and contributes overall to the sense of "other" that TRINITY is obviously looking to build.
But within that, and even allowing for a certain leeriness for anything magical, paranormal or fantastical on this reader's part, there are too many holes in other elements in this book to allow the good elements to override the less convincing. Particularly the set up of Helen and Alexey as outsiders, and the building of this supposed intrigue that they solve together, which feels contrived and lacking veritas.
On the one hand Helen, she of the lovelorn, "he done me wrong" sad and lost girl; and on the other Alexey, the young Russian heir to the dark and mysterious business founded by his father. She's sad, withdrawn, docile - he's ethereal, idealistic and somewhat naive. And stinking rich. Of course these two will set eyes on each other, declare their undying love so quickly it's a wonder they've worked out how to spell each other's names, let alone be drawn together in love, business, mystery and the whole darn thing. That's not to say that's never going to happen anywhere, but everything - every single bit of character trait, behaviour, background is screaming "this is what will happen" from the second the mysterious sunglass wearing boy appears.
Once they do pair up however, the reason for Helen's existence in the whole book becomes increasingly vague. Given her tendency to mope about you can't help but wonder what she's doing there at all, especially as her role as soppy outsider means she's not really empowered to actually get involved or do a lot. Not helped by her spending a lot of time hanging around waiting whilst Alexey's off doing secret men's business of some kind. But then both of them are strangely passive, as is the whole "sudden love of their lives thing". It's all a bit syrupy, soppy gazing and mooning and generally being all... well bleagghhh. Which was not particularly realistic or convincing given the speed of the attraction and the supposed tense times in which they exist.
Having said all of that, if you stick with it, the later part of the book does improve. The pace picks up, there's less hanging around waiting, and the central characters seem to be slightly less wishy washy. Even the magical / folkloric aspects take a higher profile, providing more context and sense to the entire thing. TRINITY is probably a book for fans of paranormal / magic and romance with a bit of intrigue, rather than crime fiction fans alone. It's definitely going to be one of those books that really works for some readers, and does not at all for others.
I am in a world deeply strange and strangely deep, a world as different from my old life as it’s possible to be, and it feels completely natural.
An unexpected encounter with a handsome stranger in a Russian wood changes the life of 22-year-old traveler Helen Clement forever, catapulting her into a high-stakes world of passion, danger, and mystery. Tested in ways she could never have imagined, she must keep her own integrity in a world where dark forces threaten and ruthlessness and betrayal haunt every day.
Set against a rising tide of magic and the paranormal in a modern Russia where the terrifying past continually leaks into the turbulent present, Trinity is a unique and gripping blend of conspiracy thriller, erotically charged romance and elements of the supernatural, laced with a murderous dose of company politics. With its roots deep in the fertile soil of Russian myth, legend, and history, it is also a fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary, distinctive country and amazingly rich culture.