I happen to know that the author of Storms of Destiny has worked as a reporter, and for that reason
I immediately started to think "autobiographical" when I started reading the novel and found it was about a female journalist.
To add to the impression, I learned that Terri Von Reiman lives in Florida, the setting for much of the action. It would be
completely wrong to infer from this that the novel is in any way unimaginative or derivative, or that it does not stand up
as a piece of fiction.
The very phrase, Storms of Destiny, had rung alarm bells in my mind. It sounds so much like the title
of a Victorian melodrama, and in many ways the narrative resembles one. In fact, Destiny is a girl’s name in this context,
though that doesn’t exactly alter the overall feel of the book.
It would be unfair to focus on the things that were wrong with the manuscript I received, which contained
lots of errors, particularly in punctuation. That’s one of the things that sometimes make it difficult to produce a
pre-publication review (a point to note for anyone who may be thinking of submitting their manuscript for such a review).
There were, however, flaws that I doubted the proof-reader would be able to do anything about, specifically in the over-stated
dialogue and the attention to irrelevant detail. Detail is a very good thing in its place, and Tara’s friendship with
Shelly is convincingly drawn, but it should not be allowed to eclipse the story, and that is what tends to happen in this
narrative, particularly the early part. Moreover, to interrupt the action to explain that a Canella "is a hot Spanish drink
made with hot water, sugar and cinnamon stick" is not a good idea; local colour should be just that, and not introduced in
the style of a travel writer.
The supernatural element in the plot, reminiscent of Anya Seton or Barbara Michaels, is a potential strength,
and in this respect Storms of Destiny is rather an original novel. It may be easy to make a rough guess at the content
from the title, but it is not easy, even after the first few chapters, to predict which way the story is going. This is not
a straightforward romance, but an exploration of the history and ambience of the southern United States, a part of the world
that seems to exert a strong influence on everyone who has experienced its atmosphere, and which has proved inspirational
to many a novelist.
Elsewhere on this site you can find an interview with Terri Von Reiman that opens up the motivation behind
her writing, and is well worth a read for those who find their appetites whetted by this review. I personally found it very