Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Master Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg. 47 North, 2016

This book concludes the trilogy that started with “The Paper Magician”. Ceony is about to take the final exam that will make her a magician instead of apprentice, but her mind is on other things. Saraj, the murderous Excisioner who killed one of Ceony’s friends, has escaped from prison and Ceony fears he will seek revenge for his imprisonment.

Magician Thane, Ceony’s mentor and intense love interest, has made the decision to have another Folder administer Ceony’s examination so that there can be no accusations of favoritism. Ceony makes it her mission to track Saraj as he moves across England to try and safe guard her family and herself; this is actually made easier by her move to another magician’s dwelling. She can use the talent she’s discovered- to use all sorts of magic rather than just Folding- with less fear of discovery. But is this new talent enough to defeat an Excisioner?

The story has a lot of things happening, but it doesn’t all hang together well. The bit with her sister didn’t really fit in. Ceony acts very rashly, more like the girl she was earlier than the almost-Magician she is. She still has her “only I can save this situation” attitude that puts her in danger- and threatens to reveal to Saraj how she performs her new magic abilities. I had a lot of trouble seeing her as a mature person! The action seems all in a rush, too, without good connection. The book has its moments – the magic is very inventive and I still love it. My favorite scene, though, isn’t a battle scene but at the very front of the book where Ceony decorates for a client’s party by bespelling paper to portray a living jungle! 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon they will give me a few cents. This in no way altered my review. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Caillech, by Rachel Patterson. Moon Books, 2016

This small book focuses on the British goddess who started as a creation goddess but morphed into a blue faced hag of winter. She was the goddess of midwives and of evil, sharing a connection with Brigid. Patterson relates the many tales of her from all over the British Isles, and also shows connections to places further away- even to Spain and possibly to the Hindu goddess Kali. Many of the stories are similar; a lot of natural features in the British landscape are attributed to the Cailleach carrying stones in her apron and the apron strings breaking, dumping the rocks in the landscape. Those show how widespread the worship of the Cailleach was.

In the final chapter the author shares her experiences with the Cailleach, and a ritual to honor her. It’s a nice little book for both pagans and students of lore. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something -anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from Net Galley in return for a fair review. 

neither of these things influenced my review.  

In the Darkroom, by Susan Faludi. Metropolitan Books, 2016

After the author’s parent’s split up when she was a teen, she saw little of her father. When she got an email from him when he was 76 years old, he had a surprise for her: he had had Sexual Reassignment Surgery and was now a woman- Steven Faludi was now Stefanie. She wanted her daughter to come visit her. While Susan was ready to find out more about her father’s life, she wasn’t ready to forgive her for how she’d treated her mother and herself, which was what her father was really after.

Stefi was born in Hungary under another name. Her parents were upper middle class Jews, but Germany invaded, different political factions ran the country, and they lost everything. She escaped, and as far as Susan knew, never had contact with her family again. She came to America, married, and played the suburban father of the era, building things in the basement. When the marriage fell apart, she kicked the door down and attacked the man Susan’s mother was seeing. Things didn’t get any better after that.

Susan heads for Hungary, expecting her father to ask for forgiveness for her absence from her life. That’s not what Stefi has in mind, though. First Stefi wants to share her wardrobe with Susan! But a connection is made, and Susan spends the next few years visiting her father in Hungary. At a glacial pace over the years, Stefi reveals her past. Escaping Nazis and anti-Semitic Hungarian governments through Germany, Demark, Brazil, and finally the USA, she reinvented herself with every move. She boasted about knowing how to fake things. A macho outdoorsman, a Christian, a suburban dad, a gifted photographer and artist with photo retouching. A man. Did she fully inhabit any of these roles, or were they all play acting? Did the fact that she was trapped in a male body make it impossible for her to feel completely comfortable in any of her younger roles? Would she have been a better parent and spouse if she had lived in a female body? Given the late date of her SRS, the trans part of Stefi’s story is a very small part, although it’s the part stressed on the book jacket.

While Susan learns a great deal about her father’s past, it’s not until after Stefi is dead that Susan finds out that there was still a great deal to discover. It’s a fascinating story about identity and family secrets. 

the above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

This in no way influenced my review.