Review

Quietus

by Vivian Schilling


Quietus: 1. A finishing stroke

2. Discharge or release from life

3. The moment of Death


This huge novel begins on a chartered flight doomed to
crash one stormy evening somewhere in the White Mountains of New
Hampshire. Immediately, the terror inside that small airplane is
palpable. The shrieks and pleas scream from the pages. The moment
of impact spikes the pulse. Then comes the aftermath. Miraculously,
five of the passengers survive. But were they supposed to? That is
a question Kylie O'Rourke, spared from a fiery death, wrestles with
through the entire book.

Her memories of that horrible night could not possibly have
happened, although she insists they are real. Even Jack, her
husband, who lived through the crash with her, believes she is
suffering from a form of post traumatic stress. Two of the other
passengers who came through with less serious injuries, Kylie's
best friend Amelia and husband Dix, remember none of what Kylie
describes: Wandering the mountain with the other survivors,
exploring a deserted cottage in the blizzard, and a trio of
shrouded beings seemingly stalking them. She seeks the help of a
detective and a psychologist but she cannot accept the explanations
given to her. In the face of such doubt, she remains steadfast in
her conviction of what she recalls.

Back home again in Boston, in the midst of a large
interior-decorating project, Jack and Kylie struggle to put their
lives back in order. Their marriage falters, then recovers, only to
falter once more. Kylie's rantings about a dark figure following
her merely add to the couple's problems. An old murder case and the
accidental death of her brother at age five intertwine with the
present day. And then people close to Kylie start dying in odd
ways. Her panic has her firmly in its grip, a stranglehold that
threatens even the reader's stable realm. The unspeakable horror
she faces seems insurmountable. Page after page, one can feel her
frustration, her sense of aloneness, and her utter
desolation.

As Kylie grapples with the forces stalking her, the reader can't
resist turning to questions of mortality. What happens if Death is
cheated? Should victims of heavy trauma be resuscitated? Can you
really come back from the brink? And, if you do, how do you face
each day thereafter? You find yourself realizing how precious every
moment is, that life can end abruptly, at any time.

Author/screenwriter Vivian Schilling writes dramatically, with a
talent for making the reader visualize as though the scenes were on
film. The action is relentless, albeit a bit redundant. Despite the
novel's size --- nearly 600 pages --- the story is well told and
highly engaging. Ms. Schilling's ability to illustrate with
painstaking detail tends to become overwhelming on occasion.
However, my personal preference leans toward wordiness over a thin
plot, and QUIETUS has no lack of plot. While it may appear to be a
bit complex, the wrap-up is neat, tidy and devilishly clever.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 23, 2011

Quietus
by Vivian Schilling

  • Publication Date: January 22, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Hannover House
  • ISBN-10: 0963784617
  • ISBN-13: 9780963784612