Readers of Paul Steven Stone’s previous novel, “Or So It Seems,” will recognize many themes and eccentricities revisited to sophisticated and engaging purposes in “Souljourner.” Principal among them is the central Importance in both novels of each protagonist’s membership and life schooling in The Seekers For Truth, a school of self-development whose roots and bubbling font of wisdom go back to the tradition of ancient schools like that of Pythagoras, but whose spiritual understanding and practical perspectives can be traced to an eccentric, fully realized Hindu Holy Man whose honorific is The Bapucharya (but you can call him “Bapu”).
Souljourner’s spiritually-aware narrator is David Rockwood Worthington, whose life sentence for murder explains his presence in a Massachusetts prison, but leaves much unexplained as to how his life’s journey brought him to such a dismal fate.
As David explains to his soul’s next incarnation, souls transit from one lifetime to the next in a grouping called a Karmic Pod. So an individual’s son in one life might become her mother in the next, one’s neighborhood priest might become a life-changing college professor in a subsequent incarnation, or your worst enemy could become your best friend. In David’s case, he is writing this letter to the next souljourner in his line to warn him against one specific hostile spirit. A spirit who travels with him from incarnation to incarnation with unflagging enmity and spite. A spirit incarnated in this current life as David’s second wife, Blossom, a Russian émigré who, once she secured her grip, squeezed the life out of David as if she were a serpent coiled around his existence.
David is able to warn the next incarnation of his soul through this letter—in the form of a novel—and expect it to reach its intended recipient because, as he explains, in this Karmically-controlled Universe we inhabit “everything is connected.” David only needs to set a strong enough intention for his warning to travel through time and space and eventually seek out his soul’s next souljourner.
There is much more to this utterly unique and fantastic story, but I will only relate that Souljourner, like this book review itself, offers the reader a surprise ending. That is, assuming you would consider a book review written by a book’s author to be a surprise.