When Julia Dulac's father is murdered onstage and her inheritance is swindled away, she must work through her grief and fear of poverty to find both the killer and a means of survival with help from the Raven, a black crystal that reveals images of past and future truths. While having the crystal appraised, Julia finds love and her life takes unexpected turns through mystery and betrayal against the backdrop of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Through the boarding house window, Julia overhears an argument between Rose and her wealthy father over Rose's illegitimate pregnancy. He drops Rose off, saying he will return in one year, that she must be either single and childless or respectably married. Though from completely different backgrounds, Julia and Rose become fast friends, facing lessons of survival and redemption as their fates become irrevocably entwined.
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Patty Dickson Pieczka's second book, Painting the Egret's Echo,, won the Library of Poetry Book Award from Bitter Oleander Press. Other books are Lacing through Time, and Word Paintings. Winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Contest, the I SPS contest, and the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, she's contributed to over fifty journals and graduated from Southern Illinois University's creative writing program.Review:
Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite
Eighteen-year-old Julia's lifeas she knew it came to an abrupt and devastating end when her father was killed while performing on stage, right in front of her. Soon after,Julia was told that her papa was heavily in debt so his entire estatewas to be sold to settle his debts. Left without a penny to her name, no home, and no relatives to turn to for help, Julia must put her griefaside and learn to fend for herself, and she does so working inhumanehours for a mean boss for meagre pay. When Julia discovers a strangeblack crystal hidden inside a pink Buddha, the visions set her on ajourney filled with confusion as she struggles to decipher them, littleknowing that therein lies the truth about her papa's death and the restof the journey she was yet to travel. With some help from dear friendsand guidance from the raven that lives inside the sorcerer's crystal,Julia begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle, and by so doingdiscovers deceitful details about her father's estate, truths about thepeople in her life, and some about the future.
Finding the Raven is a one of a kind read that will have you buried inthis remarkable 1904 setting created by Patty Dickson Pieczka. The style and narrative of the story effortlessly fit the era, taking you over acentury back in time in such a surreal and yet authentic way. PattyDickson Pieczka has an amazing way of capturing moments and emotionsthat will completely draw you in. The characters are so vivid andengaging and the setting and language so credible. Every new characterthat is introduced adds something new to an already incredible tale. And just when I thought the story couldn't get any better, Patty DicksonPieczka threw in one more twist that I never saw coming. I read the book nonstop - it is that good - but when it was over, I was sorry I hadread it so fast. I wanted it to go on forever; I wanted to be lost inthe story a little longer, or even forever.
excerpts from a review by Cataclysmicknight and Onlinebookclub.org:
The book has a fantastic hook from thevery first sentence: "No one knew death hid in the rafters of theGarrick Theater."
As this is a period piece, one of theabsolutely coolest things is the way the book covers life in 1904 St.Louis. Automobiles and telephones are new and uncommon, the waffle cone was accidentally invented. Things like getting a newspaper for only apenny from a corner newsboy, using candles for light instead of theirscent, electric trolleys, civil war veterans and so much more existhere, and I was amazed at how interesting of a time period it actuallywas! At the same time, it was an awful time for women - suffragetteswere fighting for the right to vote, jobs were separated into "men'sjobs" and "women's jobs" even in the newspaper, women were belittled asunintelligent at every turn and untrusted over the word of a man.
This was one of those books where nothing at all could be happening, but the wonderful writing would've kept me sucked in all the same. Luckily this wasn't the case. Between unexpected plot twists, revelations in thecase of Julia's father's murder, Rose's attempts to find Eric or beingwith Herman it felt like something happened every few pages. It's noexaggeration that I was fully immersed and kept wanting more from theminute I started reading the book. I didn't even find any grammaticalerrors, something that's far too rare.
In the end, I found myself failing to come up with any flaws for the book, making it easy to give it 4 out of 4 stars. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, mystery, romance and even some magic should definitely give Finding the Raven a read.
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