Book Review: The Secrets of Dr. Taverner

The Secrets of Dr. Taverner

by  Dion Fortune  © 2011

WeiserBooks    ISBN:  978-1-57863-337-1

Paperback       236 pages

$16.95  (U.S.)

This novel was assembled from a group of short stories at about the same time as the final collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, and there are some similarities           to be noted.  This was intended, as Dion Fortune wanted her stories to gain as large a readership as possible.  Ms Fortune was one of the earliest students of psychoanalysis in the UK, and her training shows through in her works.

Dion Fortune had the good fortune to combine a psychologist’s insight with a writer’s ability to capture the imagination.  To that mixture she added in a working knowledge of general esotericism, magick and secret societies (thanks to her involvement in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn).  She used her non-fiction esoteric books to convey the theory and her novels to show the practical side of magick.

The stories in this work are composites.  Nothing is taken directly from any one source or event, but everything has its roots in actuality.

Because it was published in the mid-1920s the style of writing is much more relaxed, and more detail oriented than is common nowadays.  Ms Fortune used her magickal name to publish those works which would not be accepted by the scientific community of the day (and which would consequently affect her professional standing), while publishing her “acceptable” books on psychology under her “normal” name of Violet Mary Firth.

If you have never read any of Fortune’s novels before, this is an excellent introductory work.  If, on the other hand, you have read The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic this may come as a bit of a surprise.  Being comprised of short stories it moves along at a faster clip and contains a wider variety of characters.

Without a doubt, this was the most enjoyable of all of the Dion Fortune works I have read in my lifetime, and I really appreciate the fact that Weiser Books is bringing them back for a new generation to appreciate.