Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
Copyright 2009
Sweetwater Books - Thriller/Paranormal
339 pages

When the author contacted me about reviewing A Circle of Souls, it sounded fabulous. I'm a little squeamish about violence in books, but I liked the sound of the paranormal aspect -- a young girl whose dreams are actually psychic messages from a murdered child.

The squeamish bit kept me from reading it for quite a while. I received the book in July and didn't read it till December because I kept thinking it was something I would have to be in the right mental state to handle -- and apparently, I pretty much never consider myself in the right mental state to handle violence, but I finally opened the book and found that I couldn't put it down. What a shock to find that in spite of the initial horror (the young girl's death is pretty brutal) the pages absolutely flew.

A Circle of Souls has two storylines that converge. A young girl is found brutally murdered and FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving missing children, is called in to help solve the case. I'm actually writing this backwards -- first, the reader gets to know the murderer in a vague way and then the little girl strays into his path and is killed. That part is horrible and I don't believe it's a spoiler or I wouldn't have mentioned it. It's not till later on that Leia is brought in to investigate, when some clues are uncovered and it becomes certain that the missing girl is not alive.

Around the same time of the murdered girl's death, a seven-year-old girl named Naya is brought in to the Emergency Room after a nightmare caused her to endanger herself by climbing onto a balcony wall in her sleep. Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist assigned to Naya's case to determine the cause of her nightmares, first decides he must rule out any physical cause (such as brain tumor or seizures) before checking her into an inpatient children's psychiatry unit to attempt to unravel the problem.

Naya is a remarkably skilled artist who draws images of her dreams. When the psychiatrist in charge of Naya's care realizes her dreams are actually psychic images sent by the murdered girl (her explanations of her sketches help lead him to that conclusion), he connects with Leia, the agent in charge of the murder investigation, to help her solve it.

I was stunned at how beautifully this book was written. I didn't pay attention to information about the author, at first, but it was written in a way that made me think either he was an amazing researcher or a genuine physician -- especially during scenes that ring true to my own experience, such as the doctor having to dicker with people at the girl's insurance company to make sure she got the care she needed. I finally flipped to the back and found that the author is, in fact, a psychiatrist. Not all physicians can write so well, though, in spite of their knowledge. I found the book impressive in craftsmanship. Besides being well structured, the author nicely inserts his medical expertise without ever going overboard and carefully doles out clues in order to maintain suspense.

A Circle of Souls was by far the most gripping book I've read in ages, well-balanced and written in a way that convinces you, "This could happen." For the subject matter -- a girl who is receiving messages from a murdered child -- I think it's pretty stunning the way the author pulled it off and maintained suspension of disbelief.

5/5 - A gripping, beautifully written, believable story. I couldn't put this book down and look forward to future works from this author.

Just finished: The Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories by Roald Dahl

Now drinking: Novel Teas. You've probably heard about Novel Teas. I need to find a link to let you know where to buy some because I'm not even sure where to find the stuff, but for now . . . just a word about the tea. I've seen this particular brand of tea mentioned at other blogs and I wasn't quite sure I got the point, then I was contacted and asked if I'd like to sample it. So, now I "get it". It is simply a good blend of tea with a little tag containing a bookish quote. I like tea, although I don't think you could call me a huge tea drinker -- I tend to veer toward flavored and herbal teas. But, I can tell you I do love this tea. It's smooth, not bitter. I don't drink sugar in my tea unless it has a bite to it and there's no tang that needs to be covered up in Novel Teas.

Plus, I'm a sucker for a bookish quote. As a side note, I have forgiven my mother for raising me on that disgusting dried crap known as Nestea. You have to wonder what she was thinking. It took half a sugar bowl to make that stuff palatable. I didn't taste brewed tea until I was a married woman. Anyone who thinks that's beyond weird, hold up your hand.

Gotta go baby my furball. Hope your Wednesday was full of wahoos!


  1. I really enjoyed this book as well. Love the tea mug. :)

  2. Mari,

    I thought it was one of the best books I read in 2009. I really hope he writes more. Thanks! That's a NaNoWriMo mug. I'm a little sad that they retired the running pencil guy.

  3. Well, this one went straight to my Amazon wish list. It sounds wonderful.


  4. Any idea why they retired the running pencil guy?

  5. What a beautiful review. I have this book but have not had a chance to read it -- I certainly want to now --so thanks!

  6. I'm so glad this book exceeded your expectations!

    You live in Mississippi and you don't put sugar in your tea? I'm surprised the state hasn't kicked you out! LOL

  7. CJ,

    Excellent. I think A Circle of Souls is right up your alley. I hope you get a copy soon, so I can hear your thoughts.


    I read the Q & A explaining why they'd replaced Running Pencil Man with the stupid shield but it didn't say much -- just a generic blurb that it was "time for an update". However, I looked it up on the boards and found that some people apparently complained that Running Man was a man. In response to that bit of information, someone called Zookeeper wrote:

    Oh. That's silly. I'm female, and it didn't bother me. The obvious fix would have been to bring in his sister, Running Pencil Woman.

    I agree.


    Thank you! Consider me the bic lighter under your behind that gets you to open the book. ;) Hope you love it as much as I did.


    It really did stun me. I don't know what I was expecting -- maybe gratuitous violence and bad language? Not the case at all. I came away from the book appreciating the author's writing instead of shivering over scary scenes.

    Believe me, they'd kick me out of Mississippi if they could figure out how. Instead, most everyone just ignores me. I'm assuming they just figure I'll eventually leave on my own. Most people skedaddle from Vicksburg within about 2 years.

  8. I'm so happy you liked this one so much. I thought it was very very good. I was a bit worried that the scary/icky parts might not pass the "Bookfool Test" so I'm glad it was all balanced out with the rest of the book. I'm with you in hoping he writes more.

  9. I have read a few reviews of this book and I can't decide if I want to read it or not. It sounds good, but not really my type of read at the same time...

  10. This book sounds amazing. Definitely going on my wishlist!

  11. SuziQ,

    I agree with you that it's very, very good. As to the scary/icky parts . . . well, yeah. I was worried, too! They were rough, but I think it helped that he kept the pages turning. It was paced awfully well and the way he balanced the murder with Naya's treatment just worked for me.


    To be honest, it's not my kind of read, either -- at least, it's not a typical read for me. I avoid murder, violence and mystery like crazy. But, it just worked. If you do ever read it, I'll be anxious to read your thoughts.

  12. You are an excellent reviewer. Thank you.

  13. Bored_D,

    Excellent. I hope you love it!


    Why, thank you, dear. :)

  14. Lol, my dad's British, so I have to hold up my hand. But strangely enough, with all that exposure to the good stuff, I never developed a real taste for tea, brewed or otherwise, so I think I'M beyond weird :)

  15. Glad you really liked this one and rated it highly. I'm looking forward to reading it myself.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  16. Gentle Reader,

    Well, if you have a British father . . . definitely. LOL A friend of mine had a British grandmother and she said she could only drink tea if the right amount of milk was poured in first -- always the milk and then the tea or "the blend wouldn't be right". People are funny. :)


    It's excellent. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  17. You can find the Novel Teas website here:
    I too got a sample and enjoyed my cup! So glad you did too!

  18. Stephanie,

    thanks so much. I'll save your email and try to remember to link up to them!


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