“Book Review: Precognitions”
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
An encouraging tale of human growth with ties to synchronicity and universal connections
Author Daniela I. Norris takes readers into the lives of those from 16th-century Africa, from the startling French Revolution, and from our present day. While the characters are wildly different from one another, they are connected in every way.
Our modern-day character Jen is a 16-year-old with fairly common teenage problems. Her father keeps reminding her about college; she is trying to keep up with her grades, and she strives for excellence in her sport (fencing). Plus, her divorced mother is dating Noah, Jen’s fencing coach.
But recently, Jen has also had some strange visions of an African girl with a sword and birds. Whatever the symbolism may be, Jen soon discovers her mother and Noah might actually have a part in it.
During the French Revolution, freemason and schoolteacher Jules meets an old woman who predicts a future filled with heartache. What comes to Jules may lead to tears, but it is also filled with newfound hope and bright beginnings.
Long ago, in West Africa, a shaman takes in a boy with the skin color of the “Ghost Men,” who have proved dangerous to the village. The shaman raises the light-skinned boy (now named Ocimbanda) along with his daughter Coya. He teaches them the ancient shamanic ways and how to protect the village from the Ghost Men if they ever return.
Relatable human problems within these characters are sure to elevate the reading experience for those who pick up this inspirational historical novel. First, you have Jen, the teenager with her overwhelming decisions and family issues. Next, you have Jules, who is ridden with regret for not being there for his loved ones during the French Revolution’s storm. At last, you have Ocimbanda, the white child raised in an African village. He feels like a complete outsider even though his new family raised him like their own blood. Eventually, Ocimbanda discovers he can protect his community, leaving his ostracized feelings behind.
Like Ocimbanda, people tend to feel out of place in certain situations until they discover their inner power. It’s one of the life lessons Norris succeeds in presenting in this story.
While most characters did have their own intriguing journeys throughout the book, I admit I wanted a bit more out of Jen’s story. After her visions, you wonder what happened to her next. Did she achieve her goals? How far did she go into the fencing world? After her otherworldly experiences, did she drop everything and become a runaway to find herself? I’m a bit disappointed that I don’t find out, but it doesn’t stand in the way of my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Norris makes an interesting choice penning Jen and Coya as mirror aspects of each other. Outspoken and fearless, Coya is the courage Jen needs in her 21st-century life. Coya is her village’s real strength but is barely recognized for it. People highly praise Jen for her accomplishments, but Jen does not believe she accomplished anything. It takes a while for her to summon the courage to go for what she wants. Meanwhile, Coya is the kind of person who hunts down whatever she desires.
Precognitions is an uplifting story with a magical realist touch, elements of our own humanity, and mystical concepts that will make you wonder your own part in the universe.
Category: Historical fiction
Paperback: 262 pages
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