Where Dead Bodies Lie (The Body Dowser Series, #1)
by Kat Cazanav
Release Date: 12/16/14
For as long as I can remember, I have been told to follow three important rules;
Always guard my ability
Never share my secret
And pretend to be normal.
However, those three little rules don’t make my life easier. I still find dead people and deal with strange visions. Not to mention, an attraction to a boy who doesn’t exist. Whenever we cross path’s he mists away like smoke on a mirror. He drives me crazy, that Kaff Cooper.
As a flock of dead crows fall from the blackened sky, Kaff becomes the only one who can see the truth straight to the dark underbelly of who I actually am.
My hands feel the pull to extract the forsaken, the lost, the forgotten. It comes as naturally as breathing and there is no stopping it.
Stella Marie Monroe, Ella, has a talent that she doesn’t want, and one that seems to bring her nothing but trouble. Ella is a dowser, naturally sensitive to electromagnetic fields . In the past dowsing was commonly used to find water, but it is also used to find minerals, such as gold or ore, such as coal. Dowsing can also be used to find bodies, and it is this particular form of the talent that Ella possesses. She can find objects and minerals, thus leading to her father buying up the claims to “dead mines” for Ella to dowse. On one of those dowsing trips with her dad her “dead body” talent awakens, causing a cave in, killing her father and almost Ella herself. She is left in the care of her father’s younger step sister Lily, who was only college age when 8 year old Ella came to her. She hasn’t had a “body dowsing” incident since her dad died.
Lilly gets her into a prestigious school up in Canada, LeMoray Academy. It’s a fancy place, the students are all either brilliant, famous, or nobility. Due to Ella’s high IQ they accepted her for freshman year. Ella travels to the school, but doesn’t make it through the first few weeks before her dowsing ability got out of control on a field trip. She wanders off from the rest of her group when the pretty boy who was talking to her and another jerk start a fight. She walks farther into the forest. Everything goes wonky around her, reality rippling like she was on an acid trip, the world turning from a green and living forest to a burned out wasteland. She falls down a well, finds a body, and is technically dead for a short while before waking up in a half open body bag.
She resigns herself to the fact that her ability has apparently returned and tries to do the right thing and tell the headmistress of the school that there was a body out in the woods. No one at the school knew about her talent except for her roommate and best friend Addy, but after the incident with the well the whole story got out. The school expels her, trying to head off bad publicity. She spends the remainder of her high school career being homeschooled by Lily.
Fast forward to Ella’s senior year. As before, she hasn’t had a body dowsing incident since she fell down the well. She must return to LeMoray Academy to do a brief stint there in order to have her records completed. They are letting her do a week of community service, then she may return home and apply to colleges with no expulsion on her records and a chance at a full scholarships. Lily tells her that there are a few conditions she has to fulfill: She has to apologize to the Headmistress, and thank the person who performed CPR on her. This confused me, why does she have to apologize? It’s not like she jumped down the well on purpose, and the publicity nightmare than ensued due to her dowsing ability afterward wasn’t her fault. Lily tells her to swallow her pride just for a couple of days and gives her a pair of huge oven gloves, telling her to wear them when she feels “the urge” to block her powers. (Her powers manifest in her hands first)
She returns to the town unwillingly, and her ride up to the school never shows up. She ditches the gloves. She tries to walk to the school but has another incident and is found the next day passed out on the beach. This time she had a vision of fingers poking out of the dirt. The Sheriff warns her that people in the town are unhappy with her for all of the attention she drew when she was last there. Ella just wants to do what she has to do and get the heck out of there for good. She re-meets Kaff Cooper, the pretty boy she noticed her freshman year, but only spoke to just before her dowsing/well-dive accident. He’s all grown up now, and very attractive. She has a meeting with the principal, who tells her (snottily, may I add) that she is there to do some filing, clean up some toilets and basically do whatever else crap work they can think up for her to do for a week. Why are they punishing her, I don’t get it.
She is to wear gloves at all times. She is not to flirt with any of the boys, even if they come on to her. They’re really treating her like a leper here I don’t know how the adults are getting away with this. She also has to give a lecture about dowsing to the science class, like five minutes past this meeting. She reports to the classroom as ordered, and the teacher leaves. The students goad her into showing them what she can do. She busts a pipe finding a ring that was lost in the room, glass breaks, things fly around the room, and a ghost shows up out of nowhere. This school has more problems than the assholes running it apparently. She passes out. Next thing she knows Kaff is there, telling her that he will handle the explanation to the teacher. When she looks back in the classroom a short while later it is set entirely back to rights, but how?
Kaff Cooper is a frigging mystery. He was attractive when Ella first spoke to him back in her freshman year, and he has only improved with time. He has kept to himself for his entire high school career. He’s a rule breaker, but the school won’t kick him out because of his high test scores. He seems to know more about Ella than he lets on, almost like he’s reading her mind. Ella calls Lily (who is now working at a lawyer’s office) and asks her to run a background check on him. She finds that he’s a complete blank, mother and father dead, no guardian, no blood type, no social, no school records other than when he started there as a freshman. It’s pretty obvious that he’s fond of her, even though Ella can’t decide if she likes him or not. She started out blaming him for the whole well incident - if he and the other boy - Fielding (that’s about a prep kid’s name, huh?) hadn’t started fighting she never would have wandered off and found the well.
She makes it her business to find out more about him, curious about how he fixed up the classroom. She speaks to his former roommate, who winds up telling her that he saw him disappear once in front of his eyes. She breaks into his room and finds something very strange - the room is just window dressing. He’s not living there. Yeah, there’s trash and a change of clothes there, but the bed has never been slept in - it’s covered in dust, and the little welcome note on the pillow from freshman year is still there. If that wasn’t freaky enough, she finds a crystal pendant necklace. It’s the same one that she lost in the mine collapse when she was 8, when her dad died. While she is in the room she is attacked by some dark entity and Kaff interrupts them, saving her. She runs out of the room, and in the morning cannot remember everything that happened. Whatever Kaff is, dude is not mortal.
Meanwhile, you find out that this little town is even more twisted than they let on. They think that they are cursed, and people keep finding dead shriveled crows. Apparently back in the day the people there were big on killing witches. As a matter of fact the well that Ella fell in and died in was where the original gallows were. They would hang the witches, then just cut them loose into the well, they didn’t even bury them. The town’s baker has disappeared, and the school principal and sheriff want Ella to use her abilities to help them find her. There is also an actual storm coming, what they call a hundred year storm. People are boarding things up and preparing. A word or two about this “dark entity that Kaff saved her from: Kaff tells her that “he” is after her. Now that makes me wonder - her mother was taken by some dark entity. She encountered another one (or the same one) in the cave in with her dad just before the avalanche.
Kaff tells her that he was there in the cave with her, and kept her safe from the entity until she got out of the rubble. Could he be the spirit of one of the bodies she uncovered in that mine? How did he get in on this at all? Back to the dark entity. She and her grandmother used to walk tunnels under the city she lived in at night, so that Ella could practice her ability. She encountered it there once too, and again when she fell in the well, she got a sense of it there as well. So what is this, for lack of a better word, demon doing trailing her for all of this time? and why did it leave her alone for three years when she was with Lily homeschooling? Is it the same one that took her mother? Kaff begs her to stay inside during the storm, to go to the basement, saying that it’s the only place that she will be safe. He has “made a deal”, he says, to keep her safe.
Ella goes to an unlikely source, the biology teacher whose classroom she doused in (and wrecked) earlier. She finds in him a surprising ally, who tells her that her ability is a gift, and not a curse. He agrees with her that Kaff is not mortal and gives her a book that mentions the town they are in. Up until now it was well hidden, and I’ll admit even I didn’t catch on to it - The town doesn’t have a name. He tells her that “A town without a name is a town filled with secrets” and that the town is the only spot in the world with a certain type and strength of electromagnetic field that would allow someone with her ability to access other realities. That’s why she keeps seeing a wasteland when she dowses, it’s another reality. That’s where the crows are coming from too, out of this rift. the reality she’s pulling from is a mirror image of this world. She also learns the secret of Kaff’s past in this book.
From this point this book turns into a wild rollercoaster ride to the finish. Once again used wrongly by the adults that should have been protecting her, Ella finds herself in the middle of a deadly storm trying to save her friends and the boy who has come to mean more to her than anyone. She is beset on every side by people who either don’t believe what she is trying to tell them, or are actively trying to hinder her. And don’t forget, there’s this dark entity, this “stranger” that means Ella nothing but harm. You get a good picture of what groupthink paranoia can do to what used to be perfectly reasonable adults. (It’s nothing good…)
Despite my obvious confusion with certain plot points, I enjoyed this book. I could easily see it being turned into a movie. I can only wonder where the author will take us next in this series.
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