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Water Witch    by Deborah Leblanc order for
Water Witch
by Deborah Leblanc
Order:  USA  Can
Leisure, 2008 (2008)
Paperback, e-Book

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*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Dunny Pollock has always been considered odd, born with an extra finger on one hand. Once she discovers that her extra finger can do strange things - like locate underground water wells or oil deposits, not to mention items or people who had gone missing - her life takes on an almost circus like quality as people exploit her talent. For a while, Dunny does what she can to help, but it soon becomes too much for her to handle. Now living in seclusion on a small property in Texas (with no one to keep her company but a strange little stray dog that seems to have a real knack for sensing danger), Dunny is content with her solitary life working as a freelance writer ... until her sister Angelle calls her from Louisiana about two missing children.

Both kids are part of Angelle's elementary class and she swears that neither of them would dream of running off into the swamp. But that's just where everyone figures they've gone. Dunny would rather leave it to the locals - why would she want to put herself through the horror all over again - especially if the kids are already dead. But her sister is persuasive and soon Dunny finds herself in Angelle's hometown, introduced to a host of colourful locals, including Poochie, an elderly woman who seems to know - and see - a lot more than she lets on. Things get more ominous when malevolent spirits begin antagonizing anyone who dares to interfere with the plans of the one who summoned them.

Leblanc immediately sets a dark tone and captures reader sympathy through Dunny's first person point of view as she introduces readers to her peculiar gift. Once the setting shifts away from Texas to the Louisiana swamps she maintains the creep factor with spooky segments describing the antagonist's dark agenda and those of the spirits he's called forth to do his sinister bidding. Unfortunately though, the connection to Dunny is lost as Leblanc switches back and forth between a host of players' third person points of view. Dunny is especially overshadowed by not only the villain's long-winded diatribes (which include far too many sequences where he's graphically terrorizing the two missing children) but also by Poochie, whose Cajun dialect and I'm-old-therefore I-know-everything-there-is-to-know attitude quickly becomes annoying. A deux ex machina conclusion adds to the disappointment of this lacklustre and often clichéd horror story.

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