Anais Mark's story Metaphysics, begins in London in 1688. A character identified as Mr. Cullen is taking his leave of a young woman, Miss Sophie Copeland. She sends him away, it seems, although he is reticent to leave her. The spectre of the supernatural lurks in the subtext.
The narrative then shifts to London, 2009. Written from Bella Swan's first person perspective, we discover that she is a graduate student in England who is haunted by dreams of Edward Cullen, a man she hasn't seen in seven years. No sooner has she settled herself into her new life than she receives an email from Alice Cullen, an old friend and Edward's sister. Alice announces that she and her family are relocating to England and that she and Edward will be attending Queen Mary University, Bella's institution.
So begins the slow reconnection between Bella and the Cullens, interwoven with her musings on their past interactions, or lack thereof, back in Forks. In particular, Edward's unfriendly behaviour and eventual departure from Forks for school in Switzerland looms large in Bella's mind.
However, an encounter with Edward in which he and Bella realize they are researching the same seventeenth century poets for their respective theses brings these two individuals together. It is suggested that their research will be more complicated than they had anticipated given the maze through which graduate students must run in order to locate personald documents, poems and artificats from libraries and family archives, and the strange circumstances influencing the writings of Sophie Copeland.
The intrigue surrounding the poets and their connection to the flashback with the mysterious Mr. Cullen tantalize the reader. But Miss Mark is not quick to tip her hand. No, mysteries in this story must be solved through hard work, whether it be the work of the researchers or the quick mind of the reader. In addition, the past discomfort with which Edward and Bella have interacted still looms large, although there appears to be an incremental thawing in their interactions as they share a common project. Sexual tension hovers between the lines of dialogue and once again Miss Mark does not rush in allowing this tension to stretch and spread between the two main characters.
This story isn't a standard university tale about academics. Rather, it is a literary mystery and in that respect, it is unique in its contribution to the Twilight fan fiction community, in my experience. I am unashamed to say that this story and its writing reminds me of the Booker Prize winning author, A. S. Byatt. [www.asbyatt.com] This is a compliment. Like Byatt, Miss Mark includes some poetic verse in her narrative. This reader eagerly wishes for more such inclusions.
The story is well written in a style that is unique and fluid, without being lapidary or self-indulgent. Make no mistake - the plot isn't fluffy or riddled with jokes, although subtle humour emerges. But the character studies are interesting twists on canon as are some of the original plot points from "Twilight." This is a story for a thinking reader who appreciates fine language and fine details and who will read with the patience a good yarn leisurely unwound requires.
In short, if you are looking for a smart, well-written story that includes a (literate and) literary mystery, this is the story for you. I unreservedly recommend it.
Sebastien Robichaud is relatively new to the Twilight Fandom and is the author of "The University of Edward Masen." A noted recluse, Robichaud rarely gives interviews and seldom if ever answers personal questions. It was suggested in a recent Twitter debate that Robichaud is actually Robert Pattinson. Neither Robichaud nor Pattinson could be reached for comment at the time of this publication, which quite frankly didn't surprise us.