If Practical Magic had an adorable knitted child...this book fits seamlessly into the magical realism category. It's a story of sisters, and old magic...moreIf Practical Magic had an adorable knitted child...this book fits seamlessly into the magical realism category. It's a story of sisters, and old magic passed down through a family, and the consequences of that magic. It's occasionally difficult to distinguish between characters, as the author's descriptions are sometimes vague, but Aubrey is by far the most charming. Shy and uncertain of herself and her place in the world, she blossoms slowly as the book goes on. At first I thought it going to end on a bad note, but the magic surprises you in the end, making for a better lesson than expected.(less)
At the outset, I was a little concerned this would be a trivializing novel about contemporary pagans. However, like Deborah Harkness, Foster manages t...moreAt the outset, I was a little concerned this would be a trivializing novel about contemporary pagans. However, like Deborah Harkness, Foster manages to keep the magic while not injecting saccharine sweetness into her descriptions.
This has all the magic of Sarah Addison Allen's writing, though When Autumn Leaves reads more like short stories with the same cast of characters. I can't yet see how she'll pull them all together in the end. (This written about 75% of the way through.)
With her last chapter (Samhain), she does in fact manage to pull all the seemingly disparate stories together. I think this is very much a debut novel, but it's a charming one so I forgive the author the occasional stock cliche and look forward to more of her books about Avening and the Jaen.(less)
I think I even like this one better than the first! I'm a sucker for historical fiction, particularly of the speculative variety. Harkness has such a...moreI think I even like this one better than the first! I'm a sucker for historical fiction, particularly of the speculative variety. Harkness has such a great ability to breathe life into her characters, even ones that--if I'd heard a description of them out of context--I'd otherwise expect to be bored with. Her lush descriptions of landscape and scene are great without being overwhelming. And yet again, she manages to write witches convincingly without falling back on shitty-stupid stereotypes or making them so otherworldly-magical as to be totally unbelievable. This is what I'm probably most impressed with in her writing.
I'm hesitant to give this series a 5, because I am mildly irritated by the love story between Diana and Matthew. I blame this on Twilight: I can no longer look at most vampire romances and not cringe just a little. However, overall it's a far more mature/realistic/non-abusive love story than Twilight (because duh; Harkness doesn't suck at life the way Meyer does). There were just a few select moments that made me cringe and seemed notable but weren't dealbreakers/causes for me to hate the entire book series.
The ending of this one seemed abrupt. Not in a cliffhanger way either, but in a "wait, that's it?" kind of way. Mildly annoyed, but still can't wait until the third one comes out!!(less)
I started this going "Meh, whatever, maybe it'll be ok." Then suddenly, at a point which is not immediately identifiable, I could not be induced to pu...moreI started this going "Meh, whatever, maybe it'll be ok." Then suddenly, at a point which is not immediately identifiable, I could not be induced to put it down. I kept reading. A single chapter is rarely enough to quench my curiosity. Harkness' abilities in the realm of world-building are pretty impressive, making it both like and unlike our current reality. Her portrayals of vampires, daemons, and witches are credible without being ridiculous/offensive. As a pagan, I find that many books about witches either end up perpetuating negative stereotypes or are just plain stupid. This is not one of those books.
Another reviewer made an excellent point about this book: the foreshadowing is done with the heavy hand. Said reviewer blamed that on this being Harkness' first novel, but I don't think that has to be the reason. Yes, she's heavy-handed in the foreshadowing. Does this ruin the book? Not at all.
She reminds me of a less trashy Laurell K. Hamilton (said with love): her worldbuilding is immersive and the book is a quick read, but doesn't lose complexity for all its' ease. Her characters continue to be believable and engaging, and I find myself invested in what happens to them. The cliffhanger ending is killer. I had to start reading the second book in the trilogy pretty much immediately. This is clearly going to be a longer reading project than originally expected. I'm ok with it.(less)
Phyllis Curott is utterly sensible in her writing style, and I appreciate that, especially since a great deal of pagan books are way less down-to-eart...morePhyllis Curott is utterly sensible in her writing style, and I appreciate that, especially since a great deal of pagan books are way less down-to-earth. This is a great practical handbook for both beginners and oldbies like me (I've been pagan for almost 14 years now), giving explanations of why we do what we do that are easy to understand and often not discussed. Some of us, particularly practitioners who have never been part of a coven, don't get these theological explanations of how and why spells work and what to do when they don't, in addition to historical contexts for our practice.
That said, it is a long read. There are lots of activities she encourages you to engage in, but even if you skip over some of them (which I don't recommend - I think all of them are really useful!), it will probably take you a long time. There's a lot to absorb, even though she phrases it simply. Really enjoyed this practical not-quite-how-to guide to paganism. It makes you think about the reasons for ritual, and helps organize your beliefs a bit better. Good thinking-through exercises and excellent suggestions in general. I'd recommend this for pretty much any pagan, n00b or old.(less)
I'd somehow forgotten how utterly approachable Cunningham's writing style makes his books. He's non-threatening and friendly, two excellent traits for...moreI'd somehow forgotten how utterly approachable Cunningham's writing style makes his books. He's non-threatening and friendly, two excellent traits for someone who wrote a lot of introductory books for wicca. Even though it's supposed to be a "further guide", a lot of the stuff is the same from his first book "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner". He does expand on some concepts and adds in things like creating your own tradition, but a lot of it seems repetitive. Also the longer I read it, the more his writing style irritates me. He writes like an authority, but then says no author is an authority. It seems very black-and-white, when in fact theological issues are anything but that.
Overall I think the book is more useful to someone who has been practicing for less time than I have, and someone who is not as widely read. This sounds pompous, but I do think it's true. This book would be an excellent companion to some other introductory books on paganism more generally. As always, question as you read and be introspective/reflective.(less)