Ann W. Jarvie’s The Soul Retrieval is a novel with a touch of mystery with an additional sense of the personal journey story. Set in the 1950s, it presents an odd perspective on a people and their customs, as we see mainly through the eyes of transplanted southern gal Henrietta Clayborn.
Somehow, Joe Loco becomes a garish caricature: a Native who’s tendency to dress like Elvis blends weirdly with his mystical abilities. Henrietta’s got her own issues and much though she’d like to ignore them, she finds herself sharing with Joe. He’s got insight and he says he has medicine; ancient medicine that will work a soul retrieval.
Conversations between them achieve an odd intimacy that claims the reader’s attention. Its not a romantic intimacy; they are both married to others. However, Joe’s sense of Henrietta’s pain, and his willingness to help, creates a strange relationship between them. Even though Henrietta also finds him odd, she finds herself sharing with him. Their conversations can be flippant, or silly or even argumentative, yet, each is somehow heartfelt. As odd As Joe Loco is, we don’t doubt what he sees. And, one cannot help but feel for Henrietta. While the evil in her past might seem to be the chief trouble, her current life is by no means easy. She finds herself confronting those that might be termed ‘evil’ even in her current life.
Although Henrietta’s pain and struggles do reach the reader, some aspects of this story are difficult to believe and tend to draw one away from the story. Characters are not always true to character. However, the story is incredibly original. On one level The Soul Retrieval speaks to friendship, and on another addresses all kinds of healing. It’s very original and very worth reading.
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