The Devil of DeCourcy Island: The Brother XII. – Ron MacIsaac, Donald Clark and Charles Lillard
Porcépic Books – 1989
In the 1920s, a weirdo calling himself Brother XII started a commune for his religious order on Vancouver Island. His cult, the Aquarian Foundation, was a variant of theosophy, and it was mainly made up of old rich stupid people. As time went on, things got awkward at the commune, especially after Brother XII started taking his new girlfriends back with him and telling his followers that these women were reincarnations of Egyptian goddesses. One of these women was quite mean to the people living in the commune. The Aquarians started to suspect that their religious leader might have been taking advantage of them. He was living in a big house with his mistress, and they were living in shacks. They tried to take him to court, but when the court date came around, Brother XII was missing. He had sailed away with as much of their money as he could fit into his boat. Nobody really knows where he went afterwards, but some believe he died in Europe a few years later.
That’s more or less what happened. It’s a moderately interesting story. Nothing about it seems particularly far-fetched. This is story told in the first half of The Devil of DeCourcy Island by MacIsaac, Clark and Lillard. The book’s narration is horrendous, and it constantly goes back and forward in time. I think this might have been done to create suspense, but it fails. It just makes reading the narrative confusing.
The writing is terrible, but the real problem with this book is that the second half serves as a rebuttal to the first half. The authors spend the final 60 pages showing how parts of the story they’ve just told are slightly inaccurate. There’s no major contradictions that I could pick out though; they’re all little fecky things. It struck me as odd that they would structure the book in such an awful manner. Surely the logical approach would be to simply write a single, accurate account of what they knew about the Aquarian Foundation? I reckon the authors did what they did because the interesting version of a truthful story of Brother XII would only take up 60 or so pages.
The first half of this book is poorly structured. The second half is unbearably boring. I had hoped to read about some weird occult rituals, but it was mostly about how different witnesses reported different amounts of money being taken. I’m not going to rule out reading more books on Brother XII in the future, but I’m not going to go searching them out either.