Read Water Witch by Deborah Leblanc Free Online
Book Title: Water Witch|
The author of the book: Deborah Leblanc
ISBN 13: 9780843960396
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 12.44 MB
Edition: Leisure Books
Date of issue: September 1st 2008
Read full description of the books Water Witch:Note, Sept. 24, 2016: I've tweaked this much-amended review once again, to remove language critical of the Federal disclosure requirements for free review copies. Though I originally resented these as insulting to reviewers, I've come to recognize that readers of reviews are entitled to that kind of above-board disclosure. (I know a bit more about abuses in the book trade now than I did back then!)
Note, Aug. 20, 2013: After reflecting on this book in the four or so years since I've read it, and comparing it to other fiction I've read, it's grown in my estimation (as sometimes happens with other books, too), and I've decided to raise my rating to four stars. The negatives are still there, but I've decided not to weight them as heavily (partly because my reaction was based to a degree on guesses about authorial intent, which is unfair because they aren't founded on anything solid), and to give fairer weight to the significant positives that I also noted.
[Note: this review was updated and tweaked slightly on March 3, 2012]
After an attention-grabbing prologue, this novel introduces us to Dunny Pollack, a 30-something native of rural Texas, born with a extra left pinkie which apparently channels psychic power for finding things ("water witch" was one epithet other kids gave her when, as a child, it proved to have water-dowsing ability). When her sister, who's now a schoolteacher in the bayous of Louisiana, summons her to locate two missing children, Dunny learns that there's more going on here than kidnapping. A villain (who's part Skidi Pawnee, and all sociopath) has conjured dark entities from Native American mythology, and supernatural manifestations of a very nasty sort are making themselves felt in tiny Bayou Crow.
This proved to be a difficult book to rate, because there were a number of aspects of it I really liked and a few I really didn't. The quandry was compounded by the fact that the author is a Goodreads friend of mine --which, if this were a court case, would get me excluded from the jury in a heartbeat! (In the interests of full disclosure, I'll report that my copy of the book was a gracious gift from the lady herself.) I settled on three stars because, on balance, I did like it, to a point --but not as well as I'd hoped to, and could have if some things had been done differently.
There are a lot of good features here. LeBlanc grips the reader's attention immediately and doesn't let go; her plotting is original, as is the supernatural menace here (it's drawn from Pawnee traditions of human sacrifice which I'd read about before in nonfiction contexts --and the author doesn't fall into the PC trap of re-writing history and anthropology to reduce all Indian spiritual traditions to a clone of the beliefs of yuppie New Agers; rather, she's fully aware of their dark side) and the characterizations are very round and vivid --Poochie Blackledge, nee' Babineau, is like someone Dickens might have created, had he spent time in Cajun country. :-) Despite her foul mouth (see below), Dunny herself is an essentially likable protagonist, who has a genuinely kind heart, guts, and a desire to do the right thing. The Louisiana setting is brought to life vividly (it's LeBlanc's home state), and the reproduction of Cajun dialect is wonderfully done. For the most part, LeBlanc is a really gifted wordsmith, and adept as well at plotting and pacing (she's very good at ending chapters on pivots or cliffhangers that draw you on to move forward --and she's also good at switching focus from one group of characters to another when interest in the first group is high, a technique Edgar Rice Burroughs perfected). Her evocation of the physical and mental challenges of the climactic ordeal isn't rushed through --it's drawn out exactly the way the character(s) would experience it, and you fully feel the intensity of fear and tension, and the physical stress. The climax also throws two curveball surprise developments I did not expect for an instant, though the clues to one of them were hidden in plain sight in a manner that would do credit to Agatha Christie. :-) Best of all, you have more than one character here who makes decisions to do something for someone else that involves sacrifice or risk of some kind, because it's right and because he/she cares; this is genuinely moral fiction, in the best sense. And unlike many modern novels, the book has no sexual content (licit or illicit).
On the negative side, it's clear that the harmful poltergeist-like manifestations, and probably the personality change in Dunny's brother-in-law, are the result of the villain's attempt to conjure pagan gods; but how this works is never explained, and it never has any explicit resolution. More importantly, there's a very high level of gratuitous bad language here (including obscenity --I lost count of the f-words, for instance). We'd expect it from the villain; but both Pollack sisters also swear like troopers, and other characters add to the problem. The amount and kind of bad language, and the way it's used --almost as if it were meant to desensitize the reader-- quickly becomes grating and offensive. Finally, the only evangelical Protestant character here (a Pentecostal preacher) is a demeaning caricature, with no qualities except bad ones; the implication here comes across not simply as saying that these are bad qualities, but that these are the inherent qualities of all evangelical Protestants. (That may not be LeBlanc's intention; but it's much like the portrayal of a lone black character as stupid, shiftless and cowardly. It conveys a stereotypical picture of a group of people in a way that puts down and dehumanizes them, and I didn't appreciate it.)
In balance, the book kept me reading; I cared enough about the missing kids to want to finish the story, and don't regret doing so. When I first finished it, I wasn't in the mood for other novels by LeBlanc; but in the years I've reflected on it since, I've come to feel that there are enough positives here that her other work deserves a look --if it has the same positives, and fewer of the negatives, I could imagine another Leblanc novel as possibly reaching four-star territory.
Read information about the authorBest-selling author, Deborah LeBlanc, is a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and an active paranormal investigator. She served four years as president of the Horror Writers Association, eight years as president of The Writers Guild of Acadiana, and two years as President of the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter.
Deborah is also the creator of Literacy Inc., a non-profit organization with a mission to fight illiteracy in America’s teens. For more information, visit http://www.deborahleblanc.com and http://www.literacyinc.com
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