A little note on Bradford Morrow’s fine new book…

I’ve just finished Bradford Morrow’s book, The Diviner’s Tale. It’s a wonderful read. Literary–mystery–supernatural–suspense thriller: it’s the rare book that can unify the sometimes very disparate elements of those genres, but The Diviner’s Tale does an excellent job. I don’t think of this as a genre work in the traditional sense, but it certainly uses conventions of different genres as it weaves its way towards its very satisfying end. Ultimately, it proves the “genre” tag to be a sham. It’s a rousing story containing a mystery, but the mystery is only a part of the whole. It isn’t “about” the mystery so much as it is about the characters that surround the mystery. The main character (Cass) has nearly supernatural intuition, and comes from a long line of “diviners”–people who dowse for water. Cass has always divined more than just water. What really elevates this book into top-notch page-turning literary quality fiction is the absolutely beautiful/spooky journey that Cass undergoes as she traverses both her past (family, loss, grief, fear, love, childhood trauma) and her present (missing children, lurking predators, sick father, single-motherhood). Ultimately, it’s a story about whether or not Cass can learn to trust her inherited intuition. Her whole life, she’s doubted herself, thought of herself as a fraud–but her visions/divinations demand attention and in some ways, her visions debunk her doubt, but it’s a tough thing for a character to admit. The book has classic spine chilling moments–I won’t tell you at what point they arise–and the eerie quality of the supernatural moments works so well because Morrow provides a concrete foundation of detail and landscape–it never spins into the abstract. Pay special attention to the way he utilizes fog and shadow and the unexpected appearance of people who may or may not be of this world. Highly recommended.

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