Natural Attraction


In the 1870’s, a girl from a rural town doesn’t have much hope of anything beyond being a wife and mother. Ignored by her parents, Clementine finds teachers willing to take her beyond elementary school, and she trains as a naturalist. Determined to find a new species, she applies for a job with a mining company. Her mentor and his chemist friend give her a tonic to take her womanhood away. Working in Wyoming, most are fooled, but not all. The preacher she’s been sharing a tent with, Wesley King, has also been sharing the tonic, and it changed him too.


This is not an historical; it’s more a fantastical acid trip that happens to be set in an historically accurate place and time. The basis of this tale, with a quirky female scientist as the lead, is a delightful one. The beginning and the end are reality, while the middle of the journey is the trip through a different Wonderland. Although pulling stylistically from Lewis Carroll’s writings—and quoting from them—where solid reality is blended with a dreamlike hallucinogenic state, it just doesn’t work for this story. During the journey, odd shifts happen sometimes mid-paragraph, and often several times in a chapter, making the action difficult to follow. Written in first person, with an endearingly straightforward scientific mindset, the inner dialogue is smooth, but the spoken dialogue is confusing, making it even harder to understand the action. It is very easy to get lost in this story, and not in a pleasant way. Unfortunate, as there is a fabulous storyline hidden within this psychedelic ride.


Julie York