The Book of the Most Precious Substance

By Sara Gran

The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran

It was like the book already had me, and was leading me exactly where it wanted…

Rare book dealer Lily Albrecht has just been given a tip-off about The Book of the Most Precious Substance, a seventeenth-century manual rumoured to be the most powerful occult book ever written, if it really exists.

With some of the wealthiest people in the world willing to pay Lily a fortune to track it down, she embarks on a journey from New York to New Orleans to Munich to Paris.

If she finds it, Lily stands to gain more than just money. This could erase the greatest tragedy of her life. But will Lily’s quest help her find some answers, or will she lose everything in search of a ghost?

Lily used to be an author. Quite a successful one after her first published novel. But while she was working on her second, tragedy struck and her life drastically changed. The independence, freedom, money and friends that she had perhaps taken for granted were now all gone, and she is living a fairly isolated life, feeling constantly exhausted, grieving and worrying about money. To make ends meet, she works as a book dealer. It is both this role, and her personal tragedy and grief that builds the core of this story and her motivations. The book opens at a book fair where she is approached by another dealer about a rumoured rare and highly sought after book. An occult book. One with a buyer already lined up who would pay a princely sum, resulting in Lily getting high six figures or low seven figures if she is able to find it.

The idea of that much money grabs Lily’s interest. With that she would be able to do so much to help the important people in her life, and try again to do something about the core reason for her loss. But as she learns more about the book, she is driven to a higher goal in her pursuit of it, to reverse the tragedy and get her life back.

The book that she is chasing turns out to be a book of sex magic. And as the story continues, the use of the sex magic within the pages is acted out. The sex scenes themselves are a bit all over the place – both a combination of graphic and glossed over. I’ve read books that weave sex into the story skilfully, and I would have to say that this book is not one of those examples.

Alas, the sex scenes weren’t the only things not done well. In general, it was incredibly predictable. I knew what was going to happen and the “who” from the beginning. Sure, the sprinkling of some details were an addition to what was as obvious as a six lane motorway, but on the whole, I could have shut the book shortly after Lily’s search began and would still be able to tell you the general gist of the story and what would happen.

In summary, this book had an pretty interesting premise, unfortunately the execution was somewhat lacking. It wasn’t a bad book, but for something that was trying to be unique, it fell short. And was fairly average. So if I were giving it a star rating, it would be 3 maximum. More likely 2.5.

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