Scarata Mia is an ambitious novel. It has an ambitious plot, encompassing romance, mystery, Sioux spiritual traditions and race relations. It also has an ambitious page count: 700. But in the end, Scarata Mia proves too ambitious an undertaking to live up to its aspirations.
Author Helene Lapaire’s novel tells the story of Katteya Gray, a young, beautiful white woman who has a psychic gift. Raised in a small Canadian mountain town and tutored by a Sioux shaman, she now uses her powers to help police departments around the world solve crimes.
Katt returns to her native town to investigate the murder of her best friend, a Sioux named Gentle Fawn. Her presence results in more murders, complete with ritualistic mutilations. In the course of the investigations, she meets and falls in love with Lone Eagle, a police deputy. She also confronts her absentee mother and renews her relationship with her shaman teacher Mantou.
The sections detailing Sioux traditions, such as vision quests and the medicine wheel, are fascinating, and the book makes a heartfelt plea for better relations between Native Americans and whites. Unfortunately, these passages are virtually obliterated by repetitive and unnecessary exposition and questionable plot points. For example, it seems odd that Katt finds herself stumped by the mystery, given that she’s psychic. And once the mystery is solved, Lapaire explains away the motivation for the crime by writing that Katt “did not have the answer except that [the murderer] was a very sick, sick man.”
Mechanical problems present even bigger obstacles. The story is so riddled with misused words, grammatical errors and punctuation problems that some sentences are nearly impossible to understand. (An example: “She remembered the day they had their first encounter. His chest showing off the strong body under the vest he wore. He had walked towards her, his long hair swaying to the rhythm of this sure-footed gate.”)
All combined, this book of big ambitions offers little payoff, and 700 pages will prove daunting to most readers.
Also available in ebook.