The Emancipation of Giles Corey

Michael Sortomme. Singing Lake Press, $16.95 trade paper (348p) ISBN 978-0-9830517-5-6
While it's conceivable that a book centered on "nine days of rituals to free hundreds of ghosts in the Massachusetts Bay Colony" could work, this muddled novel does not. In 2009, retired academic Mortimer Siminsky is introduced to "Indigenous Shamanic Practitioner" Sophie St. Cloud, whose shamanism is "in-your-face," and who presents him with the draft of a novel detailing her experiences in Salem, Mass. Two years earlier, Sophie attempted to use "High Magick" to aid the spirit of Giles Corey, who was pressed to death in 1692 as a result of the notorious Salem witch trials. Sortomme's interminable descriptions of the rituals carried out over the years to free Giles's soul are stultifying, leavened only by passages that are unintentionally humorous, e.g., "They knew that eating chocolate over the bones of Giles Corey would give them power, fortitude and courage." The book's dense, excruciatingly detailed account of preparations for the emancipation ritual are also a slog ("We move on to Netzach, symbolizing our energy valve, the Solar Plexus of the reading, right-brain in orientation. We have the Knight of Pentacles; he is riding slowly, his speed imperceptible to others")and most readers will concur with Mortimer's opinion that Sophie's narrative is "confusing."
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 12/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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