Saturday, 11 May 2019

Hypnosis: A Return to the Past by Maria Inês Rebelo

Hypnosis: A Return to the Past by Maria Inês Rebelo
Self published in September 2017.

One of my WorldReads from Portugal

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marcus Belling is a world-famous hypnotist. 

For the past 20 years, many exclusive clients have benefited from his skills and desire to help people.

However, everything changes when a mysterious woman named Anne Pauline Roux knocks on his door. 
She holds a rare power when hypnotized, which will affect both their lives in ways they could never imagine. Her unique power is so strong that it doesn’t stay secret for long. 

Marcus’ archrival and fellow hypnotist, Josef Salvaterra, has been looking for a way to shut down Marcus’ business for years. Pauline may just give him the opportunity he’s been waiting for. If he can work this to his advantage, he could be recognised as the greatest hypnotist the world has ever seen. 

With such a prize at stake, is there anything he’s not prepared to do?

Reading this book is a hypnotic process that will lead you to question the meaning of destiny and truth, and restore faith in our ability to find the good, even when we are not looking for it.

Hypnosis: A Return To The Past is one of the strangest books I have read in a long time and one which, on the face of it, I wouldn't have expected to have enjoyed at all. Throughout most of the story we are told instead of shown what is going on; none of the characters are particularly well developed; the prose is extremely repetitive; and people act as a result of jumping to the weirdest conclusions. The translation is sometimes lacking words and I hope that moments such as, for example, where a sexual assault is referred to as a 'blind date' are the result of poor word choice, not the author's intended meaning. Yet, somehow, when it's all put together this novel actually works and I found myself oddly compelled to keep on reading - almost hypnotically compelled I might say!

Rebelo's prose style employs a similar device to Saramago's novel Blindness in that she frequently uses descriptions in lieu of the characters' names. So, for example, our disruptive heroine is Anne Pauline, but is more often referred to as 'the young green-eyed woman' or by a similar epithet. Rebelo also recaps information about characters or events with what should be infuriating regularity, but as I said, the device works within the context of Hypnosis and gives the novel an almost poetic vibe. We cannot meet librarian Georgine without being told of her intolerance to aromas, or that perfumer Jasmine is an oracle who can see into the future. Some of the practicalities of the Hypnosis world are over explained, whereas others are swiftly glossed over. I am still not exactly sure what was was going on with the Forgotten Island of seagulls or how Anne Pauline managed to carry a feather in her jacket pocket through so many months without ruining it!

I am sure I will spend the next few days (or weeks!) suddenly remembering (as the characters often do) moments from Hypnosis and realising where plot aspects needed greater explanations in order to be plausible. So much needs to just be taken at face value that I am hesitant to recommend Hypnosis: A Return To The Past because I believe more readers will be bewildered than will be entranced. However if you enjoy experimental fiction, then this story might be worth a try.

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  1. Interesting book, I always wonder how does hypnotic work?
    I hope this book can give me a clue.

    Have a wonderful week end!

    1. There's not actually much information on how the hypnosis happens. The novel focuses on the realms accessed while under hypnosis

  2. I do enjoy this sort of story now and then where being confused and kept thinking about it is all part of the experience. Yeah, poor translation on that 'blind date'. :)

    1. I wasn't sure about the style at the very beginning, but as I got drawn into the novel I realised how well the prose fitted the subject!

  3. Sounds interesting. I'm definetly going to take a look at it.

  4. Oh, I recently got Blindness and didn't know that about substituting and omitting characters names... which is something I usually don't like so I am glad to know ahead of time. And I am glad you were able to like this one even though usually, you wouldn't. The fact that you find it so hyptonising to read intrigues me a lot.

    1. I shall eagerly await your thoughts on Blindness! I thought the audiobook was breathtakingly good