Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Waking the Moon” as Want to Read:
Waking the Moon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Waking the Moon

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,550 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Like all new students, Sweeney moves with caution at Washington, D.C.'s University of the Archangel and St. John the Divine. It is a strange place of brooding shrines and gleaming towers, guarded by stone angels. For Sweeney, college is a time to experiment with sex, to explore new friendships. It is a time of freedom and discovery--until she makes the wrong discovery.
Paperback, 497 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Eos (first published 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Waking the Moon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Waking the Moon

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeStardust by Neil GaimanSunshine by Robin McKinleyHarry Potter Boxset by J.K. RowlingAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winners
13th out of 68 books — 251 voters
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinHer Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.Perdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellLilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler
Tiptree Books
24th out of 119 books — 73 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bill  Kerwin
Oct 10, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

During her first week as a student at The University of the Archangels and St. John The Divine, Sweeney Cassady becomes friends with Angela and Oliver, a pair of charismatic and beautiful young people who have been chosen for great things by the Goddess, and soon her destiny reveals itself to be mysteriously bound up with theirs. Opposing the Great Mother is an ancient brotherhood of mages known as the Benandanti, who have watched throughout the centuries for signs of a new advent of the ancient
I can't remember exactly when I stumbled upon this book at the library, but judging from the publication date (1994)... in 1994 I was in high school, and I probably picked this up somewhere close to graduation. I was looking forward to college, so this book appealed to me on that level, and I was messing around with funny things like tarot and runes and moon phases and stuff. I loved everything about this book, from Angelica's peacock blue pen and her scent of sandalwood and oranges, to Oliver's ...more
Jan 05, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, fiction, fantasy
This had been my favorite book for years. Despite, or maybe because of, the dark adventures our heroine, Sweeney, witnesses and partakes of, this book really spoke to me and reminded me very strongly of my own younger adventures. Also, this book introduced me to C.P. Kavafy, and I'm forever indebted to that. Even sitting here writing this review, some of that magic comes rolling back into me, reminding me of that time of my life. And Oliver, god, Oliver. Haven't read the book in about four years ...more
Waking the Moon is entitled to its 5 stars, if only because Hand introduced me to the melancholic Greek poet C.P Cavafy. Fortunately, this was such a captivating read as well. Partly because I first discovered Waking the Moon when I was living the college life myself, flirting with the occult and occasionally attending goth parties in abandoned churches. The parallels I (thought I) found were the sprinkles on top of this book and its successor Black Light.

Hand masterly crafts a story that often
Aug 12, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
This is my second time through Waking the Moon, and it is just such a PLEASURABLE book, lush and spooky and expansive. On first read I expected a horror novel, and was a little disappointed, but taken as a feverishly overwritten dark fantasy, it can't be beat. It reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, but I suppose this is American Goddesses, as narrator Sweeney finds her college friend becoming some sort of moon deity who just might destroy the Earth. I love that Hand has not weighted ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Danica rated it liked it
I can tell, even before I've finished typing one sentence into this dialogue box, that this is going to be a very long review. Why? Because I really liked the first two-thirds of this book. Loved it even, for the sensual, pungent writing, the overwrought but undeniably effective atmospherics, the genderbending, the rampant bisexuality of the ensemble cast, the references to UC Berkeley, the evocation of a very specific kind of college-aged lethary & alienation, the violence of feeling that i ...more
Part fantasy, part gothic horror, part mythology, part twisted love story. It's dark, lush, sensual, and quite creepy in places. "I'll love you next time, I promise" just about broke my heart.

The first third is a bit slow but once you get to the weekend retreat, the pace picks up a lot. There were quite a few parts where I couldn't look away, let alone put the book down.

I was all set to give it 5 stars up until the climax (view spoiler)
Here is my one run-on sentence review: I hated the pretentious goth bohemian intellectual stab-me-in-the-face characters that I can't stand in real life (GOD. HATE. HATE SO MUCH) but I really enjoyed Elizabeth Hand's integration of mythology into her world-building, as well as her lovely prose which is why I give this three stars and not negative eleventybillion because of the irritating fucktardness of her characters.
Feb 12, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rather an amazing combination of horror, fantasy, mythos and suspense. From the beginning when a main character takes an ancient, crescent-shaped blade and...well, let me just say I was riveted to the story from the start.

The title caught my eye in a bookstore. A lucky find! The book is one of my favorites now and I have read other works by Hand.
Jay Daze
A novel that is as messy as the Goddess it portrays.

It's the end of the world, as we know it. Patriarchy has been in the driver's seat for over 3,000 years. The Benandanti, an ancient order of dudes, have been suppressing the goddess ever since. But now the Goddess is back with a vengeance and Kate Sweeney Cassidy is in the middle of a mystic triangle between the two chosen ones who have been bred to combat the coming threat: Oliver Wilde Crawford (an eccentrically brilliant pretty boy) and Ang
Stephen Ormsby
Jan 26, 2013 Stephen Ormsby rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that is quite brilliantly written but leaves you thinking. In that sense, it is also hard to write a review for, as I still feel this book running around my head. I suppose that means it's a great book, which I am inclined to believe.

I finished Waking the Moon some time away and realised I had not written a review for it, so I peeked back through the book. We have goddesses that kiss butt, matriarchal and patriarchal socities, blood and an ending that does not quite en
Eric Hines
Nov 25, 2011 Eric Hines rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Not badly done. Definitely heavily influenced by 1990s grad school feminism, but not fatally so. A college novel, and as usual with college novels of this type (see also The Secret History, the Rule of Four and many others), the college experience is romanticized beyond all recognition. But Hand's romanticization doesn't bury or distort (too much) the more pedestrian adolescent crises real people experience at college. Rather it heightens them and gives them a compelling context in which to play ...more
Maggie K
Feb 17, 2015 Maggie K rated it liked it
So, I really thought I,d like this a lot more than I did...its a great idea for a book, tye writing is there, but it somehow kind of falls flat.
None of the characters ring realy true. I remember actually wondering if maybe she put her own college friends into the story, and then had them act out the roles of the story. There was just such a maudlin flavor to it all.
And I didn't really buy the happy ending. It just seemed implausible. What was going on with the benandanti protection was obvious t
Alissa Bach
Sep 08, 2010 Alissa Bach rated it it was amazing
This one is really involved, but well worth the read. It's part gothic mystery, part mythology, and part romance (and, I promise, there are NO VAMPIRES).

The first half of the book is set sometime in the 1970s. Sweeny Cassidy is beginning her freshman year at The University of Archangels and St. John the Divine, a gothic sprawl somewhere in the D.C. area that is home base to the Benandanti, a secret society dedicated to guarding the world against the return of an ancient and potentially dangerous
Courtney Johnston
Jul 04, 2011 Courtney Johnston rated it really liked it
There's this quite famous New Zealand photographer, whose work moves me, physically and emotionally. She has often taken sexuality as her theme, and in one series turned her lens on men - a man ejaculating, a naked man's bum peppered with little paper cut-out cupids, a man in a fencing mask; all men who she dressed up, framed up, and presented up.

One photo in particular I love, think to be one of the sexiest and most dangerous artworks New Zealand has yet produced. It shows a woman's (at least,
Feb 15, 2013 Juushika rated it really liked it
Recommended to Juushika by: Kelly
On Sweeney's first day at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine, she's improbably befriended by Oliver, enigmatic and fey, and Angelica, gorgeous and strong-willed. A normal girl chosen by two remarkable individuals, she's pulled into the heart of their troubles as an otherworldy divine battle begins to brew. Waking the Moon is the sort of bold which often lapses into heavy-handed, an uneven but undeniably powerful book. Sweeney is an intentionally unlikely protagonist, an eff ...more
H. Anne Stoj
Jul 22, 2009 H. Anne Stoj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
So, having this book in hardcover is just a thrill. It must be one of my favorite books, though I'm not particularly sure how that happened. I'm also not sure who Martha is, the person that the book is inscribed to, but I'm glad she decided she wanted to part with it.

Waking the Moon is certainly the book that began my love affair with Hand's style nearly fifteen years ago. Part of it is her language, no doubt. The descriptions of the Divine and of other natural places remained as brilliant to me
Jun 20, 2008 Luanne rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2013 Cassandra rated it it was ok
Shelves: genre-sff
I found this novel frustrating, as the main character rarely actually does anything -- events happen to her, and around her, and she drifts on through them, emoting about them but never taking any decisive action. I also find it bemusing that so many people tout it as a feminist work; (view spoiler) ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Bondama rated it it was amazing
This book quite literally changed my life. I'd been initiated into Wicca when I was eighteen, but all I'd really comprehended was the "Barbie/Goddess" out of California. With this book (Which is a name of an actual Wiccan Working), Hand introduces the third, and far less known aspect of the Goddess - Not the Maiden, not the Mother, but the Crone. This is the aspect of Danu who tends the dead, and deals a deadly justice to those men who harm women.

It is very well written, even better researched.
Sep 12, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
Elizabeth Hand, I've decided, is the kind of writer who, every time her characters are outside, describes the sky.

And they're outside a lot. And she always has such lovely descriptions. And wonderful characters. But the things she writes are so very odd, so very borderline - plots you'd find in mainstream supernatural thriller novels with characters and prose (maybe sometimes leaning towards the purpose but I like that) you'd find in literary novels - so I just don't know who I'd recommend her s
Jul 21, 2014 Mckinley rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, myth, heroine, novel
I found the story boring. The characters are narrow and stereotypes of archetypal myth figures but not as well done as the classic myths. Tries to use sex scenes to tantalize and stimulate but they aren't new or original.

It doesn't really move along. First the main character is in college then it's 20 years later. She's an ostrich with her head in the sand, so self absorbed and uninterested in her 'friends'. Even the end is just about her own wants to have her first love returned and saved for h
Lisa B.
Oct 28, 2012 Lisa B. rated it it was ok
My Thoughts

This book was oddly addicting. Most of the time I was reading it, I was thinking - why am I reading this? Yet I could not put it down. It was one of those books where you keep reading because it is so weird and then get to the end and say - hmmmmm.

So, what does this mean? The author has an interesting writing style - very descriptive. She certainly knows how to spin a tale. I thought it was a bit too long. I’m thinking that maybe this was just not the right time for me to connect with
Mar 09, 2016 Serena rated it it was amazing
Man did I love this book when it first came out. Like many of the readers, I was about 19 and it was the 90s so all the bollocky 'women who run with the wolves' crapola was in vogue and I was both amused and fascinated by this regression into the mystical woo of the past. This book was probably what I wanted it to really be like, edgy and dangerous and full of aloof beautiful boys who were always out of reach. I loved Ms Hand's early work and in some ways this demonstrated what I loved best: her ...more
Algernon Graminski
I'm halfway through this and just hit a wall of indifference. Can anybody give me a reason to finish it? While this book is on hold I picked up The Mists of Avalon to read again. Comparing the two books, which deal with legends of the Goddess and old pre-Christian religions, leaves me even less inclined to finish Waking the Moon. MoA is so well written, the plot and characters so deep and complex, the treatment of the old legends so seamlessly woven into the overall tale, I can't put it down eve ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Maureen rated it really liked it
I recommend this book who like their fantasy set on this planet, during modern times - and you have to be a bit cynical, too, imo. I love Hand's lyrical, lush writing, the improbably reality the story's set in, how the characters are developed and the worlds they inhabit (even if I don't want to share those worlds). The climax, imo, was overwrought & somehow clumsy, but the book dénouement was decently done, and overall, the book is definitely worth reading.
Aug 22, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it
Not quite sure why I gave a full four stars as I have no plans to re-read this anytime soon, other than the book enthralled me much like Sweeney with Angelica. There was quite a lot of stage setting, and it took me nearly five days to read just 125 pages, but after that I couldn't put the book down. The worldbuilding and scholarship came across as believable and informed; however, my personal knowledge of the actual subject matter is limited so I was probably the easiest type of reader to convin ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a bit of remembering your goddess mythology or some research for it to be thoroughly enjoyed I think.
Some of the references were a bit obscure, but had some help and it flows better with that background.
Do beware the language is rough at some parts and sex is an integral part of the goddess myths.
Ms. Hand writes well and the story flows from beginning to ending.
Aug 24, 2009 Emily rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book, Hand's writing is dark and luscious. Sweeney's character was definitely a wonderful story to experience and I loved the voice the writing brought to life for her. But in the end, the story just didn't pull together in a satisfying way and I was left wondering what might have been instead.

Nov 20, 2014 Stacey rated it really liked it
This book came highly recommended by two of my friends (Thank you, Jim and Anitra!). I liked the characters - they're quirky, yet recognizable - and mostly sympathetic. I loved the magical aspects of the story - the interplay between the goddess tradition and the later male-dominated religious beliefs. Two complaints: First, this is a story that goes out with a whimper, when I felt that it should have gone out with a bang. The story, and the tension builds and builds until I just knew something ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Into the Forest: Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand 52 35 Jan 30, 2014 10:26AM  
  • A Woman of the Iron People
  • Lifelode
  • A Midsummer Tempest
  • The Innamorati
  • The Porcelain Dove
  • Unicorn Mountain
  • Larque on the Wing
  • The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein
  • A Rope of Thorns (Hexslinger, #2)
  • The Conqueror's Child (Holdfast Chronicles, #4)
  • White Queen (White Queen, #1)
  • Something Rich and Strange
  • Reign of Beasts (Creature Court, #3)
  • The Drowning Girl
  • The Song of Rhiannon
  • Redwood and Wildfire
  • The Kappa Child
  • The Gift
A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North Londo ...more
More about Elizabeth Hand...

Share This Book

“If the retreat house was a trap, it was a very nice one.” 4 likes
“It wasn't exactly like I'd sold out on my life and dreams and all that other bullshit, because the truth was I'd never actually had anything to sell. It was more like I slowly froze in place, inside my little office at the museum; more like some part of me just fell asleep one day and never woke up.” 1 likes
More quotes…