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The Sorceress and The Skull Paperback – February 5, 2016
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Before I delve into analysing this novella and its contents, I think it's good to say a few words about Donald Michael Platt and his works, because it's possible that he may a bit unknown author to many speculative fiction readers. Donald Michael Platt is a versatile author who writes historical fiction and speculative fiction. He is the author of Rocamora, House of Rocamora, Bodo The Apostate, Close to the Sun and A Gathering of Vultures. The Sorceress and the Skull is his first novella.
Donald Michael Platt has his own writing style that will resonate among many readers. He writes fluent prose that is easy to like. I like his way of writing about the happenings, because he keeps things in motion and knows how to entertain his readers.
Although The Sorceress and the Skull has an intriguing feel of dark fantasy and horror to it and it has been classified as a gothic novella, I personally classify it as fantasy fiction with a dark edge. I consider it to be an entertaining and enjoyable combination of fantasy, adventure and noir elements, told with a keen eye for atmosphere and detail.
Because it's difficult to find original and well written stories related to Nostradamus and his prophecies, The Sorceress and the Skull is a rare treasure. It's a fascinatingly dark story about Michele who is a direct descendant of Nostradamus. (In case there are readers who are not familiar with Nostradamus, he was a famous 16th century seer and prophet known for his prophecies.)
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Dr. César Dastiel's daughter, Michele, has been born. Michele is the Predicted One, the first person in five hundred years blessed with The Understanding equal to the Great Oracle himself. Because enemies want to exterminate César's family, he has made arrangements to protect her daughter... A few years later Michele and her aunt Madeleine flee from Europe to Canada. Michele sees a vision of a man, Le Crâne (The Skull), who is destined to protect her... A bit later, Michele and Madeleine move to San Francisco. The day of Michele becoming a woman is near and she will soon be able to see the past, the present and the future... Marco Antonio Dante has been released from army hospital. The skin on his face has been reconstructed and he has a skull-like face... Associate Professor Sandrine Arnoul loses her galleys and notes that she has been working on... Both Dante and Sandrine are mentioned in the prophecies and are drawn towards the descendants of Nostradamus...
This is the beginning of a well written story that leads readers into the world of darkness, prophecies and strange occurrences.
The characterisation is good, because the author pays attention to Michele's life and writes well about what she has to endure and how she lives her life. I enjoyed reading about her and her aunt, because they had to be careful not to expose themselves to their enemies.
The author also pays attention to Dante's life, because he tells of what has happened to him and what kind of decicions he makes. In my opinion, the author writes convincingly about Dante's life and how he feels about what has happened to him.
The mysterious gargoyle, Goji, is a fascinating inanimate figure. It's Michele's protector. It moves from place to place and materialises itself in different places.
Dreams, visions and strance occurrences play an important role in this novella. I think that Donald Michael Platt has done an excellent job at creating a mysterious atmosphere, because he writes fluently about how the characters deal with strange occurrences and how they react to them.
It's great that Donald Michael Platt has come up with a bit different kind of a way of communication in this novella. He writes captivatingly about how Michele and Madeleine have the ability to communicate with Dante by making him draw pictures of them and their surroundings. This feels fresh, because you seldom have an opportunity to read about this kind of communication in speculative fiction novellas.
The author has an intriguing approach to evil, because he lets his readers see how far Michele's ruthless enemies are willing to go in order to make her gain The Understanding. Because Michele's enemies use questionable methods to make her puberty begin earlier, she will have to endure medical experiments, the purpose of which is to change her and make her more mature.
I enjoyed reading about the Pyramid Prophecy, because it added intriguing mystery elements to the story. The author writes well about how the measuments of the pyramid have been interpreted and wat kind of things they mean. I was also intrigued by the British-Israel revelation, because it was something that I didn't expect to find in this novella. The author writes thought-provokingly about the Lost Tribes of Israel and racial purity. It was interesting to read how these things were connected to the happenings.
The unpublished quatrains mentioned in the text are fascinating. According to the author, they're fragments taken from Nostradamus' quatrains. It's nice that he has used them in such an inventive way. I also want to mention that the invocation of the law against inept critics at the beginning of this novella adds a nice touch of inventiveness to the story.
I like the ending, because the author has created an interesting conclusion to the story. I won't go into details about the ending and I won't reveal what happens to Michele, but I think that readers will enjoy the ending.
Donald Michael Platt's The Sorceress and the Skull is a fascinating novella. It's something different yet traditional enough to attract the attention of many readers. It's a fine achievement in captivating storytelling, because the author's vision of the descendants of Nostradamus is genuinely interesting.
My final words are:
The Sorceress and the Skull is good and well written fantasy fiction with a dark edge. If you enjoy reading dark stories and are fascinated by prophecies, please take a look at this intriguing novella.