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Storms of Destiny

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by T A Von Reiman

ISBN - to follow
PublishAmerica, 2004
334 pp, paperback
Retail price - to follow

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 illuminating.

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

Click here to read an interview with the author