Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"More than Sorrow"

Vicki Delany's More than Sorrow received a starred review from Library Journal which called it “a splendid Gothic thriller.” Delany is also the author of the Constable Molly Smith series, a police procedural set in British Columbia, and the Klondike Gold Rush books, a light-hearted historical series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to More than Sorrow and reported the following:
Page 69 is a very practical part of what is essentially a modern-Gothic thriller, and not terribly indicative of the mood I’m trying to create, but it does provide a glimpse into the character of the protagonist. Hannah Manning is an internationally-known journalist. She has been injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. She is suffering from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and living on her sister’s small-scale organic vegetable farm in Prince Edward County while she recovers. Hannah’s greatest worry, when the story begins, is that she will never recover. She’s dependent on her sister for care and knows that her brother-in-law would rather she was gone. Hannah’s parents are professionals who recently downsized to a condo in the centre of the city with no room for her. For Hannah, a proud successful, independent woman, the future is a frightening place. In Page 69 Hannah is visiting a new doctor.
She ran her eyes over my body. “You’ve lost a lot of weight since the attack. At a guess, I’d say you’ve lost a lot of muscle mass as well. Do you get any exercise?”

I considered lying. But her penetrating eyes were back on my face. “Not much.”

“You need to. I’m sure Doctor Singh told you that.”

I shrugged.

“There’s a pool at the rec center. I swim there most mornings. Why don’t you give it a try?”

I shook my head.

“You’re living out in the country, that’s good. There are studies showing that the more exposure to nature, trees in particular, one has, the quicker the recovery.”

“Is that true?”

She nodded, “Fascinating research. Simply looking at a tree through a window apparently does a person good. Your sister’s farm is near the lake, isn’t it? Lots of opportunity for walking. You said you like the woods, and the beaches aren’t crowded at this time of year.”

“Sometimes,” I said, feeling the words in my mouth, “it all just seems like too much trouble.”

“Lethargy isn’t uncommon with severe brain trauma. The brain is afraid of another shock, so it wants to shut down and heal. But that’s not good for the mind, is it?”


“What do you want, Hannah?”

I was surprised at the question. No doctor had ever asked me before what I wanted. Didn’t they all just assume that I wanted to get better?

I didn’t answer.

She made a steeple out of her fingers and leaned back in her chair. Out in the hallway a child began to cry and a woman made soothing noises. Feet walked rapidly past. The siren of an ambulance got louder as it approached. No doctor had ever waited for me to speak. They were always in such a rush to get onto the next patient.
What Hannah does not reveal to her new doctor is that she is experiencing visions. Visions of a woman emerging from the icy cold mist in the root cellar of the 200 year old farmhouse. Is the woman real? Or the product of a severely damaged brain. Which, Hannah thinks, would be worse?

Meanwhile Hannah has met Hila Popalzai, an Afghan woman severely injured in an attack in Afghanistan that killed her entire family. The two women find comfort in each other’s company and in the peace and quiet of the summer woods.

When Hila disappears, and Hannah can’t account for her time, not even to herself, old enemies begin to circle, and past and present merge into a terrifying threat to the only thing Hannah still holds dear – her ten-year-old niece, Lily.
Learn more about the book and author at Vicki Delany's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue