Modern Lit: The Diviner’s Tale, by Bradford Morrow

The Diviner's Tale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Single mom Cassandra Brooks comes from a long line of “diviners”, or water dowsers, and her father has taught her the secrets of the craft. Some folks say she’s a witch, and she has always felt like an outsider. One day while searching for a source of water on an about-to-be-developed farm, she comes upon the body of a young girl hanging by the neck from a tree. Horrified and saddened, she contacts the police, but when she leads them to the site, the body has disappeared. The Diviner’s Tale is the story of her reaction to that incident, which prompts her to question her sanity and her place in the world. What is reality and what is a figment of the mind?

Cassandra’s is a spooky sort of tale, a slowly simmering eeriness pervading it all. Like the mythological Cassandra, from time to time she sees visions, and some of them come true. She tells of her experiences in her own words, sometimes straightforwardly and other times, poetically and metaphorically. The language in this book is thoughtful, beautiful and affecting. Perhaps Cassandra thinks too much, complicating things beyond their significance. But as a character, she is engaging, intelligent and courageous, and if she’s profoundly unsure of herself, she nevertheless faces problems head on. The Diviner’s Tale also has its suspenseful segments, built around three different crimes that took place in three different decades. While it becomes clear who the middle malefactor is, the nature of his crimes, as well as the the identities of the first and third, require more delving into the details of the story itself. In the process, her most significant relationships must change.

As Cassandra herself concludes, “All we had ever been were stories, and saying ourselves, unveiling our stories, was the best, the only, chance at divining ourselves.”

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