Clara Awake


a novel by Melinda Vandenbeld Giles

Print: 978-1-77133-369-6
ePub: 978-1-77133-370-2
PDF: 978-1-77133-372-6
280 Pages
June 14, 2017

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Ever since anthropology PhD student Clara Lemont started researching the African-Brazilian religion of Odùn, her days and nights became filled with dreams of swirling figures of white, drum beats and yellow eyes haunting her in the darkness.  When Clara travels to Brazil to do fieldwork, she quickly finds herself immersed in a world of dark intrigue, political corruption, black magic and desire. Travelling across time and space to be reunited with her eternal lover, history, politics and sex all collide as the female energy of the goddesses and the transformative power of love combat the dark forces of evil. An evocative and sweeping tale of myth and magic, from a seventeenth-century escaped slave community in northern Brazil to 1930s Rio de Janeiro, Clara Awake will take you on a sensual journey of intense passion, intrigue and love.

“A magical, sensual journey into the primal heart of darkness, an exploration of magic, spirituality and sexuality. Do we create our own futures or are our destinies decided by the gods and goddesses of old? A compelling novel about the universal energies that connect us to one another and to the purest good, and the deepest evil. If we follow the truth within our souls, the power of love can bring triumphant freedom, enduring strength and a vivid lust for life.”

—Lisa de Nikolits, award-winning author of Between the Cracks She Fell and The Nearly Girl 

Clara Awake



Melinda Vandenbeld Giles is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and lecturer in Social Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She has published an edited collection titled Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism (2014), and will be co-editing a Companion to Motherhood forthcoming in 2018. Clara Awake, inspired by her graduate research on African-Brazilian religions, is her debut novel.

Exhausted and slightly out of breath, I finally caught up to Chico. Well, so much for being composed. By the time I got there, Chico had already knocked on the professor’s office door. And there stood Dr. Eduardo Soares. I reached out to shake his hand and introduce myself, but something was wrong. As I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze directly, I felt myself being drawn in by his dark stare, feeling like I was being immersed in deep, mud-brown water. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I felt myself entering some other realm. Blackness clouded out my vision. I knew my eyes were still open, but in the dizzying universe I’d suddenly entered, all I could see was a plethora of colours and shapes and swirling, dancing figures of white. It was happening again, the strange dreams and visions, the waking hallucinations. It was happening again, only this time it was so much more powerful and there was nothing I could do to stop it. And then it was over.

Just like that. The swirling and the sound of distant drumbeats and the repetitive chanting that seemed to come from within my mind …i t all disappeared.

I was staring into the professor’s eyes once again. I must have fallen during my dizzy spell, since I was lying in his arms. I was cocooned in his embrace, feeling the strength of his biceps and solid chest. He looked at me with concern and something else. Familiarity? The entire episode must have lasted only seconds, but the look in the professor’s eyes was haunting.

I quickly extricated myself from the professor’s secure hold and stood up, still feeling a little shaky. I couldn’t look directly at Dr. Soares again. I was totally embarrassed, cursing myself and whatever seemed to be possessing me. Why now?


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