Clothilde Dastugue reviews a "supernatual, paranormal thriller" by Lafayette author Deborah Leblanc.


Deborah LeBlanc’s novels always start with a title. At a recent writing event she was approached by a fan who admitted her grandfather was a “Water Witch,” meaning he was a dowser, a man who could find water underground. The idea took hold in Deborah’s head and gelled.

The result is Water Witch, the latest from the horror-suspense-paranormal writer whose books run the gamut of genres.

The story follows Dunny Pollock who, because of an extra finger on one hand, is able to find water — and oil for that matter — underground. She also finds lost things, such as keys and the family cat. Most of the time Dunny’s finger turns warm and points in the right direction, but when the appendage led her to the cat, which turned up dead, the finger turned cold, beginning a strange new direction in Dunny’s life.

The book opens when Dunny’s sister calls from Bayou Crow, Louisiana. Angelle is a teacher whose two young pupils have gone missing and she pleads with Dunny to come help find them. Dunny has a bad feeling about this, but goes to not only appease her sister but because something in her sister’s voice tells her there is more to the story.

And, of course, there is. Evil of a shamanistic ritual gone very wrong grows in the Atchafalaya outside of Bayou Crow. Within the town itself, Dunny finds ghosts harassing her sister, her finger turning painfully cold, a mysterious man in a Stetson named Cherokee, a preacher whose idea of sin distorts his mind and a host of colorful characters.

In the midst of all this is Angelle’s mother-in-law, a Cajun woman with a sixth sense and a prayer tree for sneakers.

In a LeBlanc novel, you can always expect lots of action, suspense, evil that expands the boundaries of horror and plenty of paranormal elements. “Water Witch” is no different and will keep readers up at night until the eerie conclusion. But like LeBlanc’s four previous novels, “Water Witch” contains various storytelling elements and isn’t easily labeled.

“I guess you would call ‘Water Witch’ a supernatural, paranormal thriller whatever,” the Lafayette author said at the Louisiana Book Festival on Oct. 4. “My books have been called everything but romance and westerns.”