Subgenre: art, divination, history
Format: coffee table book
Source: Borrowed from Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library
This is a coffee table book on the topic of divination. The book is organized as follows:
- 15 chapters, one for each divination practice presented in the book
- A bibliography, plus picture credits and acknowledgements
"This book is no more than a dabble in the deep waters of Western divination. I have tried to give a sense of the traditions of each of the systems I discuss, but all of them (with the possible exception of haruspicy) would repay further investigation" (9).
That is another thing: the book only focuses on Western divination, no Oriental/Eastern methods in this volume. While I get this is a "dabble," the dabbling is often very uneven. The author also provides instructions as possible if you want to try a method. However, the author is also intensely opinionated, which can be an issue. On this, the author writes:
"I am not demure about my opinions; you will undoubtedly notice that I approve of some interpretations and developments more than others" (9).
That bias likely helps explain the very uneven treatment of subjects in the book. Opinion can be good; however, when this author disdains something she does so aggressively. Plus, at times, to be perfectly honest, she can come across as overly prescriptive and even a bit snobbish. A little less personal opinion and a little more neutrality may have worked better for this book.
A strength of the book is in the illustrations. The author includes plenty of photos, charts, engravings, and other historical illustrations. The illustrations were a reason for me to pick up the book. They do enhance the book.
Overall, this is more of a book to browse than to read cover to cover. In the end, I did like most of it. Still, I'd say borrow it rather than buy it if you must.
3 out of 5 stars