Monday, November 30, 2015
The Night of Elisa by Isis Sousa
Isis Sousa —Brazilian-born artist living in Norway— keeps saying that she’s not a writer and that “writing sucks.” Maybe. Maybe not. One thing I find certain —whether she uses words or images, she is a great storyteller. And in “The Night of Elisa” she tells a unique, absorbing story.
From the magnificent cover through the pencil sketches in the book to the beautiful flourishes on each page, Ms. Sousa’s ability to bring her characters to “life” in drawings as well as in words enhances the experience and fully draws the reader into the rich world of her story.
“The silence of the night was broken by a beautiful female voice singing a lullaby. It came from a distance and approached Leonhard slowly, surrounding him. He listened to the melody’s phantasmagoric cadence and the sounds penetrated his skin, his bones, until he could feel the music within him. He opened his eyes abruptly as he felt a heat spreading inside him; it was as though he had been covered by the most splendid earthly sunlight.”
So many of the elements of the Gothic novel are present here: Leonhard —the fallen hero, Elisa —the woman in distress, threatened by and fleeing from the evil Quentin, the general sense of unease and foreboding, the powerful love...
The writing has a hypnotic, dreamlike quality, achieved largely —I would say— by the use of the third person omniscient point of view, by the limited use of contractions, and by the almost screenplay feel of many of its paragraphs. The tone and the rhythm are perfect for this strange world where the dead and the living seem to coexist and to interact. And, Duskland, with its permanent gloom, is more than fascinating… Once having had a taste of it, I wonder, will one be able to stay away?...
“They want us to open a door but it takes a blood ritual to do such a thing, Elisa. Would you dare to try it?”
Dark, beautiful, haunting, “The Night of Elisa” is still with me days after reading the last page and will be for a long time…