Monday, April 4, 2011

The Diviner's Tale

Author: Bradford Morrow
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra’s hanged girl.

What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.

When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.

Cassandra is a diviner and she tells her the tale of what happened to her one summer while looking for water for a client. The story is interspersed with flashbacks from her younger life. I’m not sure I really liked the main character. She was a bit boring and at times pathetic. Her 11 year old twin sons were more interesting. They come across as older and wiser than their age. Especially Jonah, who, repeatedly tells Cassandra to be true to herself and not try to conform to what everyone else thinks she should be. Cassandra’s relationships with her family and friends are what really drove the book for me. Cassandra’s struggle as she watches her father deal with the onset of Alzheimer’s was both touching and heartbreaking.

While I enjoyed listening to the Diviner’s Tale, I did feel that some parts of the story lagged a little. The detail is a bit longwinded in parts and probably could have been shortened. I was expecting more of a mystery, but I didn’t feel like it was really main focus of the book. The mystery wasn’t too hard to figure out. Anyone really paying attention should be able to finger the culprit pretty early on. I listened to the audio version and the narrator did a pretty good job. Her voices kept me listening. Give it a shot, you might like it.


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