"It was a worthy goal: don't you think?" Francis Godine leaned even closer. "To study and understand memory in all its mystery?"
He looked at Jack with feverish eyes. "Mnemosyne was a prayer. A dark prayer. Worth any sacrifice?"
The long fingers shot out and tightened around his wrist. Jack could smell the sweat and alcohol on Godine's skin.
"Would you say it is worth the sacrifice of a child?"
From DARK PRAYER, by Natasha Mostert
In the early Eighties, five Oxford students — three men and two women — establish the Order of Mnemosyne*. Beautiful, confident and intellectually brilliant, these young people have an ambitious goal: to map the complex and dizzying maze that is memory and to explore its many facets from science to mysticism. Together, the friends believe themselves to be invincible with nothing standing in the way of their great adventure of the mind.
But human passion and betrayal will always trump science, and even the love for God. The group is placed under severe pressure when three of its members are caught up in a love triangle. And when one of these members is brutally murdered, the Order of Mnemosyne ends.
It is twenty years later and Daniel Barone, the former head of Mnemosyne, faces a devastating problem. Jenilee Gray, daughter of the murdered Julianne Gray, has disappeared. When she is found, she is no longer the girl who grew up in Barone's house. Not only does she no longer remember him and indeed wants to have nothing to do with him, but she has taken on a different identity and name, and has transformed herself into someone who is street wise; almost feral. The girl has no memories of her previous life but it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary case of amnesia. Something more sinister is at work. What is more, Barone is convinced someone is trying to kill Jenilee. Could it be the same person who had killed her mother decades before?
Barone calls in the help of his old friend, Leon Simonetti, who offers to send his son, Jack, to help Barone in his quest to convince Jenilee to place herself in Barone's care. Jack, at first unwilling, soon finds himself fascinated by the girl and intrigued by her story. His protective instincts are aroused when he realises Barone is correct and that there is indeed someone who wants Jenilee dead.
Jack falls in love with Jenilee even though he comes to realise that she is damaged. Something is wrong with her mind — something far more serious than memory loss. Is she truly lost and will Jack too be pulled into the vortex of her self-destruction?
DARK PRAYER is a story about one of the twenty-first century's greatest remaining challenges: the mystery of memory as the key to who we are. We think of memory as the story of our lives but how many of these mental images and emotions we summon are accurate and reflect what had truly happened? And does it matter? Maybe this fusion of what is true and invented is central to the human condition: the natural state of what remembrance truly is.
* Mnemosyne = goddess of Memory, titaness,
mother of the muses