The Serpent Bearer
By Frank Say
What would happen to a person when they feel overtaken by demons or spirits? What happens when the person closest to them becomes critically ill and the doctors caring for that person has no idea what caused the illness? What would happen if this person’s sister who cared for him and nurtured him was overtaken with a mental illness of her own causing self-mutilation, cuts and bruises inflicted on her body and burns not just to herself but to material things too? What would happen if you were witness to this as an older sister? You would probably place this young person in an institution hoping that they find the cause. Would you ask someone for help or would you count on the doctors? From the bestselling author of Nine Lives, comes The Thirteenth Sign a gripping and chilling novel that deals with these issues and much more.
Sydney Monroe has dreams. Not your ordinary garden variety ones. No, not Sydney! Her dreams are quite different. They are more like visions and experiences that are attached to someone she has a close connection with. She can hear the voices of these people and relive their torments and more. When Dorothy Saintclair phones Sydney’s grandmother for help, she has no choice but to agree. Vickers’s Saintclair has always been an odd young lady. Throughout her life she has been a loner with no friends except the animals. She loves animals would take in strays, birds, dogs and others if they needed a home or medical care. Vickers had a natural affinity for caring for animals in need. Carl, her brother was much older yet he depended on her for many things. She took care of him as if he was her own child. How odd is that! They were very close until he got sick. That is when everything changed. But, no one knows why. As Carl’s illness increased in gravity, Vickers lost sight of reality and began to feel that her body had been overtaken by a demon that would not let go. As a result she almost killed herself. Sydney Monroe will try to figure out what caused this and much more.
As we learn more about Sydney and her abilities and Vickers and Carl the reader comes to understand that the illnesses that befell them were really not self-inflicted but wished on or caused by someone else. This someone else had to be a family member who wanted the focus and attention shifted on them but made sure that others received attention at their own expense- that would be their lives. Sydney goes to the mental facility where Vickers has been placed and meets with the Doctor in charge. When the doctor attempts to hypnotize Vickers something unexpected and horrific occurs. When she visits Carl she learns that he has renal failure or might have been poisoned.
But, the worst has yet to come. Confessing to Dorothy during an expected visit to her home that her psychic dreams were on the fritz Sydney falls prey to the same symptoms Vickers exhibited. The only difference is her family was able to help her. They told her she had exhibited the identical behaviors that Vickers did and said the same words she did as if possessed by demons. Fortunately, the result was not as catastrophic.
Sydney looked up the symptoms that Vickers exhibited and found that they mirror Munchausen syndrome. This is a factitious disorder, or mental illness, in which the person repeatedly acts as if he/she has a physical or mental disorder. In reality, they have caused the symptoms. People with factitious disorders exhibit these behaviors because of an inner need to be seen as ill or injured. They are even willing to undergo risky and painful tests and operations in order to get attention and sympathy from others and make them think they are truly ill. This is an illness associated with severe emotional difficulties. Since, Carl became ill and the attention was focused on him and she lost her caregiver status, Vickers’s behavior took on that of someone with this disorder. The symptoms are not controllable, self-inflicted injuries, multiple scars, willingness to be treated with medical tests and operations and fabricating new symptoms if the results turn out to be negative. These people seek health care professionals to meet or talk with them, their families and have poor self-esteem and identity issues.
Vickers’s symptoms seem to mirror this illness. Or do they? Some think that these people are victims of some type of abuse or neglect as a child. Although, Dorothy claims that she tried to read to her and play with her, Vickers preferred to be alone. Learning to read by herself at age five she stupefied everyone with her abilities. But, were they missing something? Would Sydney come to learn more about Vickers in her dreams?
As Sydney become more concerned with her lack of ESP and psychic powers she enlists the help of her neighbor Dave who sends her to a shaman for help. Skeptical and doubtful of this method of help she realizes it is similar to how she is able to visualize and have sensory dreams. There are three worlds to believe in, an over world, lower world and three-world system. Beginning with the lower world with the power of animals and animal spirits, she tries to envision a creek and place while listening to the sound of a drum beating and meditating on a journey to the lower world. Imagining a hole in the earth or a tree, she tried to enter a portal to the lower world. Calling out to the spirits and to find a power animal proved difficult for Sydney. But, she does not give up as the author describes Sydney’s journey into the Lower World, what she sees, encounters and the power animal that would be her guide.
As Sydney tries to uncover the answers to the problems faced by the Saintclairs, she learns more about their pasts, her parentage, their mother Angela and other secrets. Some will be revealed and others not. What she learns at the end will keep you guessing as to what or who is really behind these strange happenings not the Saintclairs and Sydney too.
Vickers was born on December 11th. The zodiac is a belt on the celestial sphere. It forms the background for the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. The ecliptic passes through more than 12 constellations. It passes through 13, the thirteenth being Ophiuchus. Ophicius is called the Snake-Holder, the symbol of which was goddess or priestess brandishing two snakes. Could this be the 13th sign and is that what is behind the evil that has befallen the Saintclairs? With an ending that will keep you guessing and hoping the sequel in this trilogy comes fast, author Frank Say has another Five Star book.
The Serpent Bearer is the first book in the Sydney Monroe Trilogy of Unanswered and Psychic Occurrences.
Fran Lewis: reviewer