Friday, 19 March 2021

The Secrets of Doctor Taverner

Dion Fortune
Weiser Books

Dr. Taverner runs a nursing home -- but it is not by any means a conventional one. It is a hospital for all manner of unorthodox mental disturbances, ranging from psychic attack and disruptions in group minds to vampirism. These are cases that conventional psychology cannot cure. Only the secret knowledge of Taverner, based on esoteric training, is enough to unravel the solutions.Each story in this collection is a complete case, as gripping and as entertaining as the stories of Sherlock Holmes. They take you into the inner worlds of the human mind -- a world full of strange twists and unexpected happenings!

Dion Fortune was an occultist, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the founder of the Fraternity of the Inner Light and she is still regarded as one of the most influential and important figures in that field.  Alongside the books she wrote on those topics she also wrote six books of fiction including this collection of short stories detailing the escapades of psychiatrist and magician Dr. Taverner.

I love an occult detective tale so despite it's awful cover art jumped at this as soon as I discovered its existence.  In the grand tradition of these things we have a detective and chronicler set up with the twist being perhaps that Dr Tavener is perhaps far more occult than detective.  In the pages of this chronicle we find Taverner and his Watson, Dr Rhodes, encounter vampires, rogue magicians, devil dogs, astral projections, greedy relatives and more in a series of sprightly tales.

Fortune was no particular wordsmith and, especially in the earlier stories, one often feels like she is trying to recruit the reader into her Fraternity and perhaps engaging in a sort of wish fulfilment.  However, when she gets into her swing on the later tales such as the excellent 'A Daughter of Pan', 'The Sea Lure' and 'A Son of the Night' she shows she can spin a very entertaining yarn and seems far more comfortable with more earthy mysteries than those dealing with more 'traditional' horrors and by the end I was fully invested in the lives of the two leads.

Buy it here - UK / US.

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