New & notable book: Camille DeAngelis’ ‘Immaculate Heart’

Award-winning author Camille DeAngelis has written fantasy for adults (Mary Modern and Petty Magic), a young adult novel (Bones & All) and a travel guide to Ireland (Moon Ireland). She admits to being drawn to supernatural subjects, so why not a Marian apparition for her new novel, Immaculate Heart?

“Drawing a tarot card for the day before attending Sunday Mass never struck me as inconsistent, even though I knew many people who would consider it so,” DeAngelis says in press materials. She was raised Catholic with a twist of New Age beliefs thrown in. “What is paradoxical about my personal belief system, then and now, is that I put faith in reincarnation and other such ‘woo-woo’ concepts, and yet I’ve always nursed the suspicion that Marian apparitions are an example of mass hysteria.

“Why do I place credence in some supernatural phenomenon and not others? How can I explain that to myself, let alone anyone else? I wanted to explore that inconsistency, so that’s the genesis of this novel. The one rule I set for myself, as I was describing all these miraculous encounters with the ‘Mother of God,’ was that I couldn’t decide one way or the other if this thing was for real.”

Immaculate Heart is set in the town of Ballymorris in Ireland, where a couple of decades before. four teenagers — three girls and a boy — reported a series of visions of the Virgin Mary, causing a media frenzy in the town and changing the teenagers’ lives forever. The boy leaves for Australia, one girl becomes a denier, one becomes a nun and one lands in a psychiatric ward.

It’s up to the narrator — a visiting journalist (and lapsed Catholic) from the United States with family in Ballymorris — to get to the truth behind what really happened all those years ago.

Celeste Williams

Immaculate Heart

  • By Camille DeAngelis
  • St. Martin’s Press, $25.99