The Purification Ceremony

The Purification Ceremony

4.5 16
by Mark Sullivan, Patricia Kalember

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In this frightening, beautifully written novel, Mark T. Sullivan brings to life the unforgettable Diana Jackman — mother, descendent of woodland shamen — a complex woman about to leave behind orderly urban life for a snowy heart of darkness.

Fast-paced, frightening, rich and lyrical, this is a story that will stay with listeners long after it's over.…  See more details below


In this frightening, beautifully written novel, Mark T. Sullivan brings to life the unforgettable Diana Jackman — mother, descendent of woodland shamen — a complex woman about to leave behind orderly urban life for a snowy heart of darkness.

Fast-paced, frightening, rich and lyrical, this is a story that will stay with listeners long after it's over.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An elite group of hunters has gathered for a chance to hunt deer on an enormous estate on the border of British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, in Sullivan's latest (The Fall Line, 1994). Among the hunters is Diana Jackman, a Micmac and Penobscot descendant whose Puoin (shaman) father taught her to track deer as a child. Diana, or Little Crow, has given herself this time in the woods as a respite from her ongoing divorce; her husband, who has been granted custody of their children, is smugly convinced that Diana is losing her mindand she may be. Certainly, she has acted strangely and even dangerously since the suicide of her father, who may or may not have killed her mother years earlier. Immediately after the hunt begins, members start turning up gutted like deer and scalped. The hunters are trapped on the estate like prey, waiting for the scheduled plane to rescue them, until Diana takes charge, organizing them to fight back against the savage killer. Two deaths and one paralyzing injury later, Diana strikes out to confront the killerand her rage at her fatheralone. Sullivan expresses an unusual pro-hunting stance in this novel, discoursing on the Native American understanding of the true hunt. Although the narrative occasionally falters, it is a mark of Sullivan's skill as a storyteller that he makes the vast Canadian wilderness feel confining, overseen by a murderous maniac who could be behind any tree. 300,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; foreign rights sold in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Norway. (June)
Library Journal
Diana Jackson, also known as Little Crow, is a deer hunter, trained in the Native American ways of tracking by her parents and great uncle. She is also a shaman, in tune with the spirits that inhabit the forest. After a series of tragic events, she denies her spirituality yet can't fully devote herself to a domestic life. Distraught and estranged from her family, she joins a commercial deer hunt on a vast estate in British Columbia. Soon she and the other hunters are stalked by a beastlike killer bent on destroying them all; Little Crow must become one with the creatures of the forest to save her companions, perhaps at the price of her own sanity. While the outcome of the story is predictable, Little Crow's voiceweary, pain-filled, and, finally, at peaceis compelling. In her, Sullivan (Hard News, Kensington, 1995) has created a unique character who should be heard from again. Recommended.Laurel A. Wilson, Alexandrian P.L, Mount Vernon, Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
Hunters get hunted by a vengeful lunatic in this all-stops- out yarn of the world's worst hunting trip.

James Metcalfe's thousand-square-mile spread on the border of Alberta and British Columbia is the best-stocked site for trophy deer hunting on the face of the earth. Now that Metcalfe's dead, his estate's been opened to hunting parties. The first party (each member has paid a fee of $7,000 for a week's hunt) includes three childhood buddies from Pennsylvania; a Nashville gun-store owner who hunts with bow and arrow; a Texas millionaire and his latest trophy wife; a knee-jerk liberal magazine writer planning an anti-hunting exposé; and Diana Jackman (a.k.a. Little Crow), a partNative American software writer who's going back to the woods in a desperate attempt to silence the demons from her troubled past. Diana's had no peace since her long-estranged father died; his death revealed his existence to her shocked husband for the first time. Now her decision to splurge on the Metcalfe junket has put her marriage on the rocks. But the real danger lies ahead, with an implacable spirit who seems bent on destroying the inaugural party by stalking and murdering them. Does James Metcalfe walk again (if he ever really died), or is the killer his nasty son Ronny? Is the motive a simple hatred of hunting, or does the killer have something personal against this particular party? And how can Diana defeat an adversary who seems to have the finely-honed senses and killer instincts of a wolf?

Deliverance meets And Then There Were None, with a cast out of Gilligan's Island. Sullivan (Hard News, 1995, etc.) handles the hunter-hunted scenario with a slickness seasoned with mingled aromas of peyote, animal musk, and testosterone. Shorn of the heavy-going mystical ruminations that are bound to be cut, the inevitable movie should be a first-rate actioner.

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Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
2 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.37(w) x 7.31(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

He sat next to me and watched the fire as he packed the pipe bowl. "This is a different mixture, Little Crow," he announced, taking a burning stick from the fire and applying it to the bowl. "No visions. But all your senses will become razor-sharp, like a mirror reflectingperfectly all that is around you. The breath of the wolf,the hunting smoke."

I knew from past experience there was no fighting him, so I took the stem in my mouth and drew in a deep inhalation of the concoction. Inside, the smoke expanded and pressed hot against my lungs. I coughed and hacked andteared, but took a second drag of it at his command. As he had predicted, there were none of the overpowering sensations I'd experienced earlier in the day, but the smoke had an almost immediate effect: my ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin hummed. I could smell the river beyond the fire, and the poplar saplings on the island beyond that. I could see the shapes of the trees out in what had been darkness. And, then, to the west, I could hear the faint howling of wolves.

He seemed to hear it,too, for he stood and crossed straight to his backpack. He brought out two more sacs of the deer blood. He bit at one with his teeth, then dripped some of it on the deer hide that covered my lap and continued dripping it in a diagonal line to a point about forty feet beyond the fire ring. He did the same thing in a second direction with the other sac. He threw the sacs into the fire, then hoisted the pack on his shoulder, picked up his bow and tied his quiver to his hip and leg. Even from 20 feet away I could hear his breath, shallow and quick now, the kind of breath you get when you have sighted game you wish to take.

"Yousaid you would not kill me."

"And I will not," he answered, jerking his head west toward the Sticks River. "They will. They are my allies. They come every night and I feed them deer meat. Now they will feed on you, a sacrifice to my allies."

I struggled against the lashes. "You are crazy.She would think so too!"

Two huge strides and he was before me, his knife raised over my head. I bowed, awaiting the inevitable, preferring it to the prospect of the wolf pack.

Instead, he knelt and said earnestly, as if he had to make me understand, as if I was the only one capable of understanding. "She loves me for what I am doing.For us the hunt was a divine ritual, a way of meeting God through the pattern of life and death that makes up this life. I am making the ritual clean again. As it was before her loss."

"No, you're making it evil."

His expression hardened. "You don't see, then, do you?"

"I see a man gone mad from his wounds."

"Well, so be it," he grunted. He stood. "I misjudged you. They are coming now. I must go the camp of my enemy to complete the purification ceremony."

And then he was a form flowing into the shadow world beyond fire and gone. The flames, leaping and sawing at the night sky just minutes ago, had waned, leaving just a crackling fire. Within minutes it would linger to embers. I twisted my arms and legs against the knots he had tied. But all I achieved was a dislodging of the deer robe from my shoulders: it sloughedoff and settled around my waist. I gazed down at the ivory-and-black quills so tightly woven on the surface of my pouch and I wanted to cry.

The wind picked up and clawed at my breasts like icy, sharp fingernails. I looked down at them in the firelight and was overcome with the vision of those late nights at home in Boston when I held my babies and felt them draw milk from me; and all had been right and good and possible. I closed my eyes and let that sensation calm me for a few precious moments.

I heard the first one padding toward me from my left. She traversed the drifts like coiled force, panting and lolling her tongue in anticipation. The thick hollow hairs of her winter coat caressed the willow whips along the riverbank. I smelled the blood he had dripped on me and the snow and the different, almost copper smell of the dried blood around the wolf's muzzle from an earlier hunt. She did not come in close enough for me to see her at first. She waited until five others had joined her.

A chunk of wood on the fire burned through and collapsed and the circle of light diminished. I sensed her advance, the others fanning our behind her. The clouds broke and the moon shone through, bathing the crescent of land around me in a pale light.

Two of the wolves growled and nosed the blood trail to my right. The other three sat on stumps about 40 yards away, their topaz eyes reflecting the dying flames that offered my only protection.

Copyright 1997 by Mark T. Sullivan

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The Purification Ceremony 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where have they been hiding Mark T Sullivan? This is the second I've read from this extraordinary author; both are 5 stars. If it wasn't for one of my favorite authors, T Jefferson Parker, I would have missed out on an important contribution to my life!
elpolloflatulato More than 1 year ago
Exciting read! Probably should rate it a 5-Star but I had a little trouble following the spiritual aspects at times. The protagonist was everything you want in a female lead but just a bit too tragic for my tastes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth reading! Even if you hate the idea of hunting, you'll find a personal journey in this book that is physical, mental, cultural and spiritual. The plot line is familiar, as are many of the characters, but you won't be disappointed in the tale. Gentlemen: don't let the fact that the main character is a woman make you think this isn't a book for men. You'll appreciate the choices she has to make in the end. Ladies: you'll find a female character who, though written by a male, is as whole a woman as we all wish we were.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rmd270 More than 1 year ago
I found this story and the storytelling to be 1st rate. I was not sure if this would be my cup of tea but the vivid writing style used by Sullivan especially to describe the physical and spiritual worlds that blend together in this book were excellent. It kept be captivated and interested to read more. Told from a 1st person perspective the story was deep, troubling, enlightening and uplifting all in one. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book about 13 years ago and i loved then and loved it just as much this time. Very good murder mystery.
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wecos More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book very much. It was a really good concept, the writing wasn't quite as good as I am used to, but it kept my attention.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was flabergasted at the text of this awesome book. It was great I am a hunter myself and I could some what relate to this book. Thrilling. My heart was always pounding like as if it were a movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because it had a great cover (hard cover). I bought it because it sounded interesting and fun. You know what I was right. This is a wonderful book. I do not feel that this is a ¿guy¿ book. The main character is female, just different from most females. Diana is a strong and powerful female lead. The kind that you have to have in a book like this to make it work. I think that Mr. Sullivan did a great job in working out the plot. I was totally engrossed in this fine piece of work from the beginning. OK the author did mess up with the scalp thing. But some times that is a part of the fun. Finding a mistake that everyone missed and they get paid the big bucks! (No pun intended.) This did not take away from the story and was not important to the plot. So you are forgiven Mr. Sullivan for one little bitty mistake. I¿m looking forward to more by this wonderful author. Keep them coming, Mr. Sullivan. I highly recommend ¿The Purification Ceremony.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great! It takes you into a frame of mind that very few people today can relate to. Sullivan's story-telling was amazingly clear and I found myself easily picturing the setting along the Dream. As a fellow female hunter I feel this book will appeal to a wide ranging audience.