Warren Rochelle's Reviews > Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic

Hellebore & Rue by JoSelle Vanderhooft
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it was amazing

Hellebore—black hellebore (the most appropriate for a witch’s garden)—according to some sources, was used in the flying ointment. Other uses include the healing of mental and emotional illness and in exorcisms, and to increase intelligence, for protection, and for invisibility. It is a baneful herb, and should never be eaten and is highly toxic. “Wear gloves when handling it.”

Leaves of rue relieve headaches and when worn around the neck, aids in recuperating from illness and acts as a ward against future ill health. Fresh rue, sniffed, clears the head in matters of love and can help you think better. Toss some in your bath to break all hexes and curses. Rub fresh leaves on your floorboards and ill spells will be sent back; hang rue at the door for protection.

And combined together, as in the collection, Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, edited by Joselle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff, (Lethe Press, 2011) some powerful magic is made by powerful women, powerful witches, and yet, quite human, with all the contradictions and ambiguities that means. Magic can heal and protect; it can destroy and harm, and is both feared and desired, and so can and is human love and human desire. In these stories, these queer women who make and use magic must also navigate the complications and mysteries of the human heart, and as result, this is a collection will appeal the reader of fantasy and the reader who appreciates excellent stories of human relationships.

In this collection, the reader will find such tales as:
“Personal Demons,” Jean Marie Ward:
Tantric sorcery, an exorcism, a young girl possessed by a powerful demon—yes, this could exacerbate the already rising tension between the sorceress, or tantrika, and her psychologist partner who outed her as a user of magic in Psychology Today. Can love survive dark power and its use, its link to sex?

“The Windskimmer,” Connie Wilkins:
One last flight, one last mission, against the enemy for a greenmage, reuniting with her former partner—what will Menka find, will she be up to the task brought to her by Aviel? And what about their hearts?

“Witches Have Cats,” Juliet Kemp:
And this one has a dog, and doesn’t know she is a witch. But when Laura Verrall’s ex develops a sudden case of the boils and a woman at a coffee shop knows this, and offers to help her with her newly-manifesting powers, Laura’s life—and that of her dog, Jasper, suddenly get complicated. Then, her friend, Alicia, calls from a party. She wants to go home, but she can’t find the door—literally, and the corridors go “round and round in circles,” and she’s trapped—can Laura help? And people at the party recognize Laura’s power—Laura is for some changes.

“D is for Demons,” Steve Berman:
Ms. Grackle is another unsuspecting witch, a retiring school nurse, who learns not only that she is a witch, and there is power waiting for her to use, but that a dietary change can help—think Hansel and Gretel.

“State of Panic,” Rachel Green:
A London police officer, who has transferred to Laverstone, far from the city, Sergeant Anna Wilde confronts more than a little prejudice against women, and finds her magical skills come in handy—even as she has to keep them hidden: they burned her grandmother. Then a murder case turns out to involve Pan and Summer, that Other Place ….

These and other stories—a dozen altogether—with other authors, such as C.B. Calsing, Ruth Sorrell, Lisa Nohlealani Morton, Quinn Smythwood, Kelly Harmon, Rrain Prior, and Sunny Moraine, do indeed, as the back cover suggests, “promise the reader many wonders,” and this collection keeps that promise.

Catherine Lundoff and Joselle Vanderhooft have worked the powerful magic of story and word and wonder, dark and light, myth and magic, in this collection of tales of queer women, queer magic. You don’t have to wear gloves, but a little rue by the door and some leaves scattered on the floor wouldn’t hurt as you venture out and into this magical collection. Guaranteed to sharpen those mental process, both seen and unseen—and as for matters of love, well … some fresh rue wouldn’t hurt.

Highly recommended.
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