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The Diviner's Tale

A Bradford Morrow book.

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A beautifully written tale of memory and magic

  • Dec 30, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
As we are quickly immersed in the world of the aptly named Cassandra Brooks we learn that she is a diviner or dowser for water. We also discover that she is gifted with pre-visions of what may (or may not) be the future. As Cassandra is out walking in the woods early one Spring morning, divining water for a client, she stumbles upon the lifeless body of a young girl hanging from a tree. Returning to the site with the authorities later that day, she is shocked to discover that all evidence of the body is gone. She is even more stunned to find a dazed and injured young girl wandering the same isolated woods while retracing her steps on the following morning. This silent victim bears an uncanny resemblance to Cassandra's initial vision of the hanged girl. Fearing for her sanity, Cassandra struggles to understand the nature of these disturbing visions that are now occurring with frightening frequency. As her grip on reality becomes tenuous, Cassandra grudgingly reveals the bitter truth about her past. She is forced to confront the wounding memories of a tragic event that haunts the lives of her family and her community. Her disturbing visions, her ill-defined memories and the appearance of a stranger capable of sudden violence and gruesome murder combine to alter her life and the lives of all of those around her.

Bradford Morrow has written a new type of suspense story, one that incorporates elements of magic and horror while retaining the guise of a traditional literary novel. The Diviner's Tale is written in a beautifully clear and crisp first person narrative. The author carefully maintains his sharp focus upon the everyday world even as that world is challenged by dark forces. His melding of disparate genres is done with such subtlety that we willingly accept the increasing strangeness and shadowy unease that fuels our mounting dread as new mysteries are born. Morrow never allows his descriptions of occult events to overwhelm the wonderfully rendered naturalism that frames his story. Everything remains plausible and sturdily grounded in reality. I was most impressed with the pacing of this novel: especially the way Cassandra's past is revealed with such languid reticence while her world becomes undone with increasing ferocity. Our expectations are allowed to simmer, heightening the suspense to a level of intensity that is surprising given the stately pace of events. Although we occupy Cassandra's troubled psyche, our presence is always unobtrusive and the revelations unfold with such skill that she and the reader are often equally surprised. Morrow skillfully manipulates tension: I often found myself reading way beyond a sane hour. As The Diviner's Tale reaches its climax, Morrow's prose assumes a kind-of verbal breathlessness that mirrors events. Since there are several mysteries that were announced by Cassandra's visions, much of what has occurred remains unexplained until the end of the novel. There are abundant revelations but a reviewer must tread carefully in order not to reveal too much. The Diviner's Tale represents writing of the finest craftsmanship. The story itself is beautifully rendered and I spent five days reading it in something-like a literary trance. You will relish the brilliantly fashioned The Diviner's Tale.

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December 31, 2010
Great review, Mike! I'm going to have to see if my library has this one, thanks :)
 
December 30, 2010
Gotta check this one out - thanks, Mike!
December 30, 2010
I think you'll like it.
 
December 30, 2010
Sounds like an interesting novel. Thanks for the review, Mike.
December 30, 2010
You're welcome. It bookends The Sherlockian nicely.
 
1
About the reviewer
Mike Birman ()
Ranked #710
I am a musician/writer. Classical music and Jazz are my favorites genres of music. I enjoy reading classic literature, history, philosophy and science. I have degrees in English Literature and Molecular … more
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