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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-11-08
- Reviewer: Staff
Cassandra Brooks, who lives in rural upstate New York with her twin sons, ekes out a living substitute teaching and dowsing, or divining, in Morrow's solid gothic-infused tale of family secrets. As a child, Cassandra discovered she possessed the gift to divine water and have "forevisions" of the future, including one the night her beloved older brother, Christopher, was killed. While on a divining job for a new property development, Cassandra sees the body of a teenage girl hanging from a tree, but when she returns with the police, there's no trace of the body. Cassandra wonders what her vision means, especially after a runaway girl, Laura Bryant, surfaces and claims she was kidnapped. Even though the vision dredges up bittersweet memories of Christopher, Cassandra is determined to help Laura, who's in real danger. Morrow (Ariel's Crossing) beautifully evokes Cassandra's inner turmoil, but those expecting a conventional whodunit may be disappointed. (Jan.)
Richly textured supernatural thriller
Cassandra Brooks would like to live a normal life. She tries to ignore her supernatural talents, retreating from her hometown to a quiet, underpopulated area with her twin sons. Having endured several lectures from her Christian mother, Cassandra even begins to dress in a feminine way and attend an occasional church service. Still, Cassandra’s true nature keeps asserting itself. In the woods, a terrible vision haunts her: Has a young girl hanged herself and gone unnoticed for days? Why does Cassandra repeatedly have premonitions and terrifying flashbacks—the smell of a cigar just outside her window, the memory of a woman falling from a cliff, the sight of a pale, ghostly girl who seems to have something to say? Soon, Cassandra’s premonitions pull her away from her attempts to achieve domestic tranquility. She is on the trail of a killer and determined to learn the meaning of her strange visions—unless someone murders her first.
The Diviner’s Tale is chilling and unexpectedly powerful. What elevates Bradford Morrow’s writing above the level of an average supernatural thriller is his attention to feeling and character. Cassandra has a rich, complicated past; a fraught, bittersweet and recognizable relationship with her mother; and a lifelike rapport with her sons. Morrow also has an exquisite gift for describing the physical world. Here, a woman recalls the evening of the Fourth of July: “The connecting dots of constellations punctuated the purple sky, and the moon rose looking like a piece of glowing citron hard candy that had been sucked by some giant child.”
Fans of mystery novels will want to pick up The Diviner’s Tale. Like Ruth Rendell and P.D. James, Morrow writes extraordinarily literary thrillers, giving us beautiful language while telling an old-fashioned, nail-biting story. With the publication of this novel, both Cassandra and Morrow are certain to acquire many fans.