Mark Alpert received inspiration for his latest novel, THE FURIES, from one of his son's middle school term papers. The essay was based on the Salem witch trials, and Alpert was startled by the fact that the witch hunt, which took place in Massachusetts, was not simply confined to that part of the world.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, witch hunts in Germany, France, Switzerland and Great Britain claimed thousands of lives. Aside from local superstition, most of these cases did not involve actual witchcraft, and the majority of those killed were women.What if, Alpert supposes in THE FURIES, women were singled out for the mere fact that they possessed a deep, dark secret, allowing them to live long lives --- in some cases, centuries long? They are not immortal, but do have a genetic deformity that allows for this existence and has caused them to live in secrecy for much of their lives.
John Rogers of Philadelphia travels to New York City for a job fair that focuses on social work. He is a man with his own secrets who is seeking a new beginning. It is there that he connects with an attractive red-headed female named Ariel. After striking out at the job fair, John heads to a local bar for a few beers before having to turn around and drive back to Philly.
"Mark Alpert is firmly in Michael Crichton territory with a novel that is plausible, thrilling and scientifically sound. THE FURIES is his most exciting adventure to date, a genre-crossing triumph sure to enthrall readers as they quickly flip the pages to watch how he makes the paranormal appear to be more than possible."
Ariel is at the same bar in the company of two young men. She reconnects with John and indicates that the gentlemen are her cousins. The pair hit it off, and Ariel accepts a ride to her Brooklyn hotel. For some odd reason, Ariel is staying in one of the scarier parts of Brooklyn --- Bushwick. As they enter Ariel's room, they are attacked by a band of armed men, and a shootout follows. Ariel's two cousins are there to protect her, though she, too, is quite able with a weapon. John is a former gangbanger and military man, so he is more than ready to help out.
John takes the wounded Ariel in his car as they race out of NYC at breakneck pace. They head towards Philly where John calls upon a former gang rival/friend to help heal her. It turns out the gunshot wounds to Ariel's legs are quite severe, and John's friend --- a former medical student --- wonders whether or not she will walk anytime soon. When the same men who attacked them in NYC arrive in Philly, John and Ariel are on the run again. This time, Ariel points them in the direction of upper Michigan.
John is due some explanations. Not only did he put his life on the line, he needs answers as to why people were trying to kill Ariel and how she is able to heal so quickly. She recounts for him the history of her family, the Furies. It turns out they are an ancient sect whereby the women bear a rare genetic trait that is the cause of the violence that has precipitated.
The women of the Fury lineage possess two X chromosomes and no Y ones. Contrary to this, the Fury men have an extra X chromosome and one Y. This has made the men of the Fury tribe infertile, forcing the women who wish to reproduce to look outside their group. For centuries, Fury women have selected male paramours with whom to breed. John quickly realizes that his background of tragedy and secrets were already known to Ariel, and he was preselected to be her personal paramour.
As they venture to the secret underground lair of the Furies, John is overwhelmed by a civilization that includes both ancient and extremely modern conveniences and advancements. He also meets a tribe that is extremely distrustful of outsiders and possessive of the elixir they refer to as “Fountain,” which a man called Sullivan is after. He and his leather-jacketed band of riflemen are the ones who shot up Ariel and John in NYC and Philly. They are after Fountain and the properties contained within that will give them what the women of their tribe have enjoyed for centuries and what they lack --- eternal youth.Fountain delivers some disturbing side effects that will play a big role in the age-old civil war between the warring Fury men and women.
Mark Alpert is firmly in Michael Crichton territory with a novel that is plausible, thrilling and scientifically sound. THE FURIES is his most exciting adventure to date, a genre-crossing triumph sure to enthrall readers as they quickly flip the pages to watch how he makes the paranormal appear to be more than possible.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 2, 2014