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Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Fractured Oak by Dannie Boyd is a fascinating murder mystery novel about two extraordinary women belonging to different generations. One hundred seventy years ago, Catherine Miller, the third woman in the United States to graduate from a reputable medical college, was murdered. Reincarnated at present as a mute and perceptive Northern Red Oak tree, she witnessed the murder of a Ph.D. student and resolved to help expose the killer. Lani Whitaker, on the other hand, is a fourth-generation, 21st-century detective due to retire soon and determined to solve the Ph.D. student murder case. Then she came across a box belonging to her great-grandfather and his notes about the nineteenth-century Catherine Miller homicide. Can the two women link together and shed light on both murders?
Dannie Boyd’s Fractured Oak is a fascinating novel that depicts the world as we see it, with its everyday details and problems, and then fills it with something extraordinary and supernatural as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. This element of magic realism is what makes the narrative stand out. It somehow reminds us that there’s a lot in life that’s irrational and perhaps we just get so wrapped up in our everyday lives that we often miss those things. I found Catherine Miller and Lani Whitaker to be highly remarkable characters as they are role models for women who challenge the status quo and become whatever they want to be. Dannie Boyd is an adept storyteller who aligns her tone to fit the setting. Comprehensive, well-researched, and above all mesmerizing, this is also a social commentary on a woman’s role in society and how it has changed through the years.