The Divinity Student

Harry O. Morris, Illustrator, Michael Cisco, Author Buzzcity Press $12.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-9652200-1-9
Short but powerful, this neo-gothic novel, which is illustrated by Harry O. Morris, uses the crisp immediacy of the present tense to lead the reader on a hallucinatory journey from humanity to inhuman transcendence. After a miraculous recovery from near death, a young man known only as the Divinity Student is beset by strange dreams whose lingering effects further alienate him from his fellows. Abruptly, he is sent away from the chill, damp confines of the seminary to work as a word-finder in the vibrant, chaotic desert city of San Veneficio, scanning old texts to record any unknown words he may find. There he is pulled into a covert plot to reconstruct the lost Catalog of Unknown Words, a tome of ""secret words, ghost-words and completely new,"" which could lead to an understanding of ""the essential substance... the source of all renewal... the synthesis of all natural forces."" Developing a weird black alchemy that he uses to literally absorb information from the brains of long-dead scholars, the Divinity Student steals away the remnants of their essence as he steals their corpses for his work. Swiftly, his desire to know deepens to obsession, pushing him further and further from sanity, risking everything to complete the Catalog and gain true understanding. Cisco wields words in sweeping, sensual waves, skillfully evoking multiple layers of image and metaphor. Though his novel is brief, it is a gem of literate dark fantasy, concisely illustrating the power, both light and dark, of words and meaning. Author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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