Real Life Story Inspires Bestselling Thriller

Published in France in 2005, Shadow Ritual sold over 300,000 copies worldwide before being translated into English. Here Jacques Ravenne talks about the real life story that inspired this bestseller.

Freemasonry has fascinated people for a long time, with its strange rituals, its supposed mysteries, its tormented history. How is it that freemasonry, which is a storytelling goldmine, is so absent from literature? Indeed, everyone knows about The Enchanted Flute, Mozart’s masonic opera, but nobody can name a novel about freemasonry. There is Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which has a few chapters devoted to Pierre’s freemason initiation. That’s not a whole lot for two centuries of freemasonry.

That’s what Eric and I were thinking one day when we came across an astonishing piece of information: sixty years after being stolen and exiled, archives from France’s major Freemason organizations were returned to France. Two centuries of history, tons of unpublished documents, suddenly reappeared. It was a resurrection that read like a thriller. In 1940, German commandos stormed Freemason headquarters in Paris, whisking away secret documents to Berlin where they were studied. At the end of the war, the Russians secreted the documents away, and didn’t return them to France until 2000.

I remember the first time I encountered those mythic archives: cardboard boxes labeled on one side with gothic letters and the other with Cyrillic. I also remember my awe at seeing an eighteenth-century manuscript with a square and compass and signed by Benjamin Franklin.

I dreamed about secrets—about the Secret—that could possibly be found in these hundreds of boxes that had made their way back to their point of origin after such and incredible voyage.

Eric and I looked at each other, and we knew we had the start of our story. A few months later Shadow Ritual was published in French, and our novel writing saga began.

Shadow Ritual comes out in English on March 25. Pre-orders are open--go to your favorite retail platform or bookstore. 

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