by Ann Gimpel
Reviewed by Scott T. Barnes
A while back I read an old book called High Tension about linemen stringing high tension wires on electric railroads. The writer had done the lineman work himself, and every page breathed with the craft. The characters and the dialog were authentic. By the end of the book I was convinced that with a little training I too could string a line.
The author of Psyche's Prophecy has that same sort of mastery, though in this case Ann Gimpel is a psychotherapist, and the lines she pulls are psychological rather than copper. Her heroine, Lara McInnis, is also a psychotherapist. Her client, Bethany Beauchamp, obviously suffers abuse from her psychotic husband Ken. When Lara offers Bethany some friendly advice, possibly stepping across the professional/client bounds, Bethany incurs the wraith of her husband, and that same husband vows vengeance on Lara. Bethany is brutally beaten. Lara's work neighbor is murdered.
The background of Psyche's Prophecy is that society's natural resources are depleted. Electricity is spotty; oil is beginning to run out. The collapse of modern civilization is beginning. The protagonist Lara McInnis has the ability to read psychic auras and struggles to use her sight to see the future. She becomes alarmed as several of her patients report the same cataclysmic dream.
Sound confusing? It actually fits together rather well, though the relationship between Ken and the visions is spotty at best.
The beauty of Gimpel's writing is in the detailed psychological profiles of the characters, each a little beyond what we expect to read, but also clearly correctly drawn. Gimpel knows how to draw characters and settings of richness and depth. Unfortunately, she never turns this off. I don't really need to know every detail of the characters' morning routines...at least not more than once. A little summary would have sped things along.
The problems of Psyche's Prophecy are multiple. Besides the irrelevant detail mentioned earlier, Lara and her boyfriend Trevor never actively prepare for the coming catastrophe. They talk about someday starting a home garden, maybe, so they can live off the grid. As electricity goes out in waves, they drive a little farther to drink their lattes. They complain. They worry.
This laissez faire attitude continues in the conflict with Ken Beauchamp. Ken murders Lara's partner and attempts to kill her, and Lara does nothing. Trevor's reaction is to buy a puppy who will someday grow up enough to provide protection. In the mean time, at least he can bark (the puppy, not Trevor).
The fantasy elements get stronger as the story proceeds, while Celtic and psychological theory intertwine in an interesting way. Lara discovers that some sort of magic being has infiltrated the Jung Institute in Switzerland where she studied many years before. In order to confront him, Lara finds a witch to train her psychic powers. Or should I say that a witch finds her... Once again, Lara doesn't take any actions herself.
Psyche's Prophecy is the first of a trilogy. I'd recommend it to anyone with a strong interest in Jungian psychology or in the relationship between psychology and folklore. If you like action-oriented protagonists and a fast pace, this probably isn't the right choice.
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