Eternal Life, a novel both adventurous and wise ... is no allegory—it’s a love story, or many love stories, with the same conflicts and joys and heartbreaks that are part of any life ... Dara Horn captures the sights, smells, and sounds of Jerusalem under Roman occupation as vividly as she portrays Manhattan in our present moment of blockchain speculation and genetic research. She is also intellectually provocative ... Eternal Life is enlivened by witty, mordant depictions of everyday life ... Dara Horn brings immense imagination to her gripping story—an ambitious, satisfying, and moving meditation on what we ultimately live for.
...captivating ... The origins of Rachel’s predicament date back to the days of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, a world Horn recreates with a deft and convincing touch. As is often the case in Horn’s fiction, Jewish history and the lives of her fictional characters wrap around one another, as Rachel’s realization of her inescapable immortality coincides with a brilliant and brutal depiction of the destruction of the ancient Temple, one of the novel’s high points.
...a tour-de-force examination of the role death plays in a meaningful life; of love—both maternal and romantic—that endures beyond time; and of the relevance of religion in a changing universe. These are weighty topics, indeed, but author Dara Horn navigates them with a light touch, creating a tale that is both page turner and philosophical treatise on humanity’s timeless quest for meaning ... while there is plenty of sorrow in this sometimes-harrowing novel, it is also a slyly funny and ultimately hopeful take on the human condition and our ability as a species to find joy, even amid the ashes.
Horn dexterously leaps across time, following various of Rachel’s many lives and allowing us to see her agony build through the centuries ... there is always an 'and yet' in Horn’s novels—the pull of life and of love is nearly as strong as the lure of death. In that tension, Horn constructs a deeply satisfying novel, rich not only in history and the great philosophical conundrums of living and dying but also in humor and passion.
Two thousand years of Jewish history forms the backdrop of this poignant, thought-provoking tale of love, grief, loss, and hope. Elizabeth Rogers's nuanced reading makes the characters come alive. Her voice captures the passion and grief of the protagonists ... This powerful book is highly recommended for the fantasy and Judaic collections of public libraries.
The idea that life derives its meaning from death is hardly new, but Horn manages to turn this commonplace notion into a powerful—and occasionally playful—exploration of what it is to be mortal ... This novel is more intimate than sweeping, though ... Some readers are likely to feel there’s not enough explanation [about the immortality], while others might feel that there’s not enough mystery. And there are moments when dialogue, character development, and storytelling are subordinate to the novel's conceit. These are difficulties any writer of speculative fiction will understand, of course, and this novel succeeds on so many levels that these are minor complaints. Poignant and thoughtful.