4 out of 4 stars
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Epiphany’s Gift, the first book in the Epiphany Mayall series by Mallory M. O’Connor, is a paranormal climate fiction or cli-fi novel that takes readers on a journey into Epiphany’s world as she learns to take control of her unique gift of visions. Epiphany’s trip back to her hometown in southern Ohio to visit her mother is not going quite as planned. For starters, she gets a call from her old college professor asking if she could use her psychic abilities to assist him in locating a missing piece of art stolen from his museum. The professor is then found dead after suffering a mysterious heart attack. Is the professor’s death tied to the lost art? Who is the man with the silver hair in her visions? Can she unmask the perpetrators and save her town before it’s too late?
O’Connor undoubtedly did thorough research for this book. The story is set against a backdrop of corporate corruption, climate change, and psychic phenomena. All these factors, psychic phenomena aside, make the story quite relatable. The facts about Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking were indisputable, and the references to famous artworks/artists, notably William Blake and Dante’s Inferno were accurate. The points she shared about art crimes were equally irrefutable. O’Connor’s background in art history certainly helped here. Her meticulous attention to each of Epiphany’s visions makes it easy for readers to create a mental image of what Epiphany was experiencing. The writing was clear and easy to follow, although the story’s pacing dragged a little too much for my taste.
I was impressed with the amount of research that went into writing this book. The dire consequences of fracking in America were front and center in the book. The facts about fracking, the global threat it poses and how little is being done to effectively regulate these oil companies opened my eyes to the perilous state of the world as we know it. The benefits derived from pursuing this avenue of non-renewable energy is not worth the irreparable damage it is wreaking on the planet. The description of oily/frothy creeks, lakes, and streams contaminated with toxic chemicals gave me chills. I was shocked to learn that the disposal of drilling wastewater used in fracking can cause earthquakes. The disposal method involved injecting the wastewater into disposal wells thousands of feet underground.
Additionally, I also liked the moving quotes O’Conner placed at strategic points in the book. They were apt for the storyline and added a dramatic flair to the book. Epiphany’s Gift is a riveting novel, and readers of the mystery/cli-fi genre are sure to enjoy it.
There were some parts of the story that raised a few unanswered questions. Epiphany was said to have gone to a place called Lily Dale to meet someone called Albert. It was after this meeting that she decided to embrace her gift completely. We don’t know what she learned from Albert that made her come to that life-altering decision. How long after this meeting did she decide to uproot her life and start anew somewhere else? What was her husband’s reaction? Did he merely let her go with their son without a fight? How did her son take being separated from his dad just like that? From all indication, Lloyd, Epiphany’s husband, was a great father to their son. What kind of arrangement, if any, was made for father and son to see each other? The lack of a satisfactory resolution to these questions left a significant gap in Epiphany’s backstory.
In terms of editing, the book appeared professionally edited with very few typographical errors. The copy I received looks like an edited draft. Despite the issue with the backstory, Epiphany’s Gift is an enthralling book with relatable characters and grounded enough for readers to understand. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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