Finding the Raven

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
292 Pages
Reviewed on 04/30/2016
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Author Biography

Patty Dickson Pieczka's main focus of writing has been poetry, but with Finding the Raven, she's branching out into fiction using the skills she's learned studying poetic imagery. Her second book of poetry, Painting the Egret's Echo, won the Library of Poetry Book Award for 2012 from the Bitter Oleander Press, and she was the featured poet in their Spring 2014 issue. Other awards include the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest in the Best Sonnet category, the ISPS poetry contest for 2012, Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award for 2010, and a nomination for an Illinois Arts Council Award. Other poetry books are Lacing Through Time (Bellowing Ark Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Word Paintings, (Snark Publishing, 2002). Patty graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University and lives with her husband in southern Illinois.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite

Eighteen-year-old Julia's life as she knew it came to an abrupt and devastating end when her father was killed while performing on stage, right in front of her. Soon after, Julia was told that her papa was heavily in debt so his entire estate was to be sold to settle his debts. Left without a penny to her name, no home, and no relatives to turn to for help, Julia must put her grief aside and learn to fend for herself, and she does so working inhumane hours for a mean boss for meagre pay. When Julia discovers a strange black crystal hidden inside a pink Buddha, the visions set her on a journey filled with confusion as she struggles to decipher them, little knowing that therein lies the truth about her papa's death and the rest of the journey she was yet to travel. With some help from dear friends and guidance from the raven that lives inside the sorcerer's crystal, Julia begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle, and by so doing discovers deceitful details about her father's estate, truths about the people in her life, and some about the future.

Finding the Raven is a one of a kind read that will have you buried in this remarkable 1904 setting created by Patty Dickson Pieczka. The style and narrative of the story effortlessly fit the era, taking you over a century back in time in such a surreal and yet authentic way. Patty Dickson Pieczka has an amazing way of capturing moments and emotions that will completely draw you in. The characters are so vivid and engaging and the setting and language so credible. Every new character that is introduced adds something new to an already incredible tale. And just when I thought the story couldn't get any better, Patty Dickson Pieczka threw in one more twist that I never saw coming. I read the book nonstop - it is that good - but when it was over, I was sorry I had read it so fast. I wanted it to go on forever; I wanted to be lost in the story a little longer, or even forever.

Carla Trueheart

I don’t remember the last time I was so absorbed in a book. Finding the Raven by author Patty Dickson Pieczka is a page-turning novel set in the year 1904, around the time of the World’s Fair in St. Louis. The book revolves around Julia and Rose, two women who find themselves in difficult situations. Julia has just lost her father, an actor, in a stage accident, while Rose, a well-off woman from a wealthy family, is sent away to a boarding house when her father learns of her pregnancy. After losing her father’s inheritance, Julia winds up at the same boarding house, and the two become instant friends. From there, Julia tries to find work while falling in love with the charismatic Monroe, and Rose goes through her pregnancy without the man she loves — the father of her baby. Rose ends up married to another man she believes is wealthy and will take care of her and the baby honorably. Through all of this, Julia finds a black crystal inside her father’s Buddha figurine, and the crystal, through vivid visions, shows her many interesting things that pertain to her life.

There are many twists and turns in this beautifully written story. Author Patty Dickson Pieczka held my attention the entire time, but most importantly, the characters in Finding the Raven felt so real to me that I was sorry when the story ended. In particular, the author did a wonderful job balancing the romances and pacing the story. People were not always who we thought they were, and this made for an interesting tale. I enjoyed the friendship between Julia and Rose and loved that they could fall back on each other through the difficulties in their lives. The crystal visions were done just right — believable and not straying from the reality of the story and the reality of the time period. A great book that is highly recommended!

Melinda Hills

Julia Dulac never expected her life to be turned upside down in an instant, but the sudden death of her father on stage begins her strange journey in Finding the Raven by Patty Dickson Pieczka. At the beginning of the 20th century, women were often the pawns of men, both in families and business. Through slick dealings, Julia loses the home her father had set up for them so Julia could leave the life of the traveling theater troupe and settle down. Forced to make her own way with no help from the pompous lawyer who settled her father’s affairs, Julia finds that life is hard for a woman who is alone. Coming in contact with other women in similar circumstances, Julia works hard to make the best of a bad situation and helps her friends in the process. With the supernatural aid of a tourmaline stone discovered among her father’s possessions, Julia tunes in to the spiritual world for hints and guidance. The forces of nature, physical and supernatural, and the love of a strong man conspire to bring all the different pieces of the mysteries of her life together, but will Julia be able to face the picture that eventually forms?

The 1904 St. Louis World Fair proves to be the perfect place and time for the story of Julia Dulac in Finding the Raven. Patty Dickson Pieczka deftly blends the emerging struggle for women’s equality with the technological advances of the early 20th century using strong characters and realistic action. This story is the perfect combination of intrigue, romance, adventure and paranormal influences so that every reader can thoroughly enjoy following the action through to a surprising conclusion. Great story!