Available April, 2019 in paperback and in e-book.
DURING COVID, purchase paperback directly from the distributor, All Lit Up
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NeWest Press, Edmonton, Alberta.
Print ISBN: 978-1-988732-47-3
ePUB ISBN: 978-1-988732-48-0
Three years into the second millennium, Majestic, Alberta is a farm town dealing with depressed crop prices, international borders closing to Canadian beef, and a severe drought. Older farmers worry about their way of life changing while young people concoct ways to escape: drugs, partying, moving away. Even the church is on the brink of closing.
When local woman Annie Gallagher is struck by lightning while divining water for a well, stories of the town’s past, including that of Annie and the grandmother who taught her water witching, slowly pour forth as everyone gathers for her funeral.
Told through the varied voices of the townspeople and Annie herself, The Death of Annie the Water Witcher by Lightning reveals Majestic to be a complex character in its own right, both haunted and haunting. Here, Audrey J. Whitson has written a novel of hard choices and magical necessity.
Book Club Discussion Questions
Do you want to discuss Annie at your next book club? Here are some great questions (PDF).
“Whitson’s novel is, by the end, a reckoning with the past, both personal and communal, but also a tale of joy—the earthy preparations for the dead and a divining born of the body.”
— Bryn Evans, Alberta Views
Read the full review online at Alberta Views.
“Majestic is depicted with poetic complexity. Annie’s friends have a salt-of-the-earth goodness, and Annie herself is a faceted, compelling woman who emerges from personal darkness to find her own peace.”
— Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews
“The Death of Annie the Water Witcher by Lightning reads as if it has come out of translation, out of a language created and shared within a community formed by geography, memory, and its own expedient, indefinable spirituality. It’s a funeral story told in forks of lightning, dozen of voices, flashing in and out of transfiguration. Like a good translation, it’s unafraid to leave in shadows what it can assume everyone already knows, rushing instead to throw light on what—until now—has been unknowable.”
— Jennifer Quist, author of The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner
“With humour and heart, Whitson peels back the small-town preoccupations of a winning cast of characters, laying bare the mysterious undercurrents of their world and beyond. Annie the water diviner is a force to be reckoned with, even after her death. This book is lyrical and lovely, a stunning achievement.”
— Fran Kimmel, author of No Good Asking and The Shore Girl
“This is a book of fascinating juxtapositions. The mysterious and the magical is overlaid with the everyday concerns of crop prices and back pain. Rumours and innuendos are overlaid with private truths coming into the light. The town’s future is overlaid with regrets of the past.”
— Jury Comments, Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize