I am a librarian, and my job is to catalog U.S. government publications. A year or two ago I cataloged a little pamphlet by the U.S. Geological Survey called Water Witching. This little book was published in 1966, and it was the Geological Survey's brief examination into the history and validity of the practice of using Y-shaped sticks and/or dowsing rods to locate hidden sources of ground water. The pamphlet was quaint, a glimpse back into the past, and it did declare that the practice of water witching, or divining, was not really a reliable method of discovering water.
When I read The Diviner's Tale, that little pamphlet came back to me in full force. The Diviner's Tale is a meaty book about a woman named Cassandra who is descended from a long line of diviners. She talks a lot about the artful science behind water witching, and I think that having read Water Witching helped me to understand what she was referring to in her story.
This book is an interesting one. It's a literary story, a book about divining, about finding yourself, about growing up. It's also a mystery of sorts. The book is about 300 pages (it seems longer), and it takes its time to unwind Cassandra's story. There is a lot in this book that could have been cut out, because in places things do get a little bogged down. On the flip side of that, though, the character development is beautiful. The author really gives you the time you need to get to know each of the characters in the story, and they come to seem very three-dimensional and real. The language is very beautiful, and it's used to convey complex ideas and emotions.
Much of this story seemed a little bit improbable. Really, the acts of water witching were some of the more believable parts of the story. Many of Cassandra's actions and decisions seem a little foolish considering she and others are in some amount of danger. If not for these bits, I think I would have enjoyed the story a little more. I did like it, it's just that the incongruous parts really stuck out.
I'm not really big on novels of self-discovery, but as far as they go, I enjoyed this one. I believe that the audio narration by Cassandra Campbell enhanced the story, as her voice is soothing and calm, perfectly suited for a contemplative novel like The Diviner's Tale.