A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read.
The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow. Corvus.
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.
This book doesn’t fit neatly into any pigeon hole, and I think this is one of the reasons I loved reading it so much. It is a blend of thriller, mystery, and family orientated women’s fiction – sitting wonderfully in its own space carved out somewhere between them all, with Cassandra’s divination, and ability to see the future adding an air of the supernatural to the mix.
This book is quiet, and peaceful, despite its sometimes difficult subject matter it is a beautiful and most satisfying read. The characters are well developed and interesting, I particularly loved the dynamic between Cass and her sons, at times it made my heart ache in the best possible way.
Whilst the book is a quiet read, this doesn’t mean the mystery element is any less gripping – there is a genuine sense of puzzlement as you read the book, Cass is very unsure about what is going on at times and the reader is in the same position. A couple of times I thought I’d worked out the mystery element and then very quickly realised I’d got it completely wrong.
Temptation Island by Victoria Fox. Mira.
Welcome to Paradise. Only the rich are invited…only the strongest survive. But is it heaven on earth or a devil’s playground? Fame. Money. Success. Lori wants them Aurora is being destroyed by them, and Stevie’s got them at her best friend’s expense. These three women are all drawn unwittingly to the shores of Temptation Island, all looking for their own truth. But they discover a secret so shocking there’s no turning back. It’s wicked, it’s sensational. Are you ready to be told? The island promises the one thing money can’t buy – but the glittering waters drown dark secrets… The price is devastating.
I loved Victoria Fox’s debut novel, Hollywood Sinners, so had pretty high expectations when I sat down to read this, her second book. It has a quick, pacy opening that has you wondering what happened to cause this incident – the book then jumps back in time a few years and steadily works forward to the opening incident. Needless to say, as you read the book you draw your own conclusions about the opening – I wonder how many readers got it as wrong as I did.
There are three women at the heart of this book, they are all clearly defined characters whose lives appear completely unconnected but naturally over time you start to see their plot threads twisting around each other’s. There’s a really sinister side to this story, I found that the more I read the less sure I became the I actually wanted to know what was going on (though of course I only read faster to discover it).
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, it ticks all the key boxes and does so in style. I did have one major quibble with how one of the main character’s storyline was resolved, for me it was really unsatisfactory. This didn’t detract from the overall experience of the book, but did leave me wishing that things had gone the way I’d wanted them too – but then that’s not real life is it.