Thursday, May 31, 2007

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert (2007, Dutton Books)

Computer hackers, remote viewing, alchemy, witchcraft, and memory; while it may sound like a typical episode of Coast to Coast AM, these are actualy pivotal elements in Natasha Mostert's stunning fourth novel, Season of the Witch. In the tradition of Neal Stephenson, Mostert manages to take these and other seemingly disparate elements and weave them together into a mesmerizing whole.

The story is centered upon remote viewer turned info-thief Gabriel Blackstone, who is hired by a prominent London citizen with ties to Blackstone's troubled past. The job seems simple enough: find out what has happened to his client's estranged and missing son, last known to be in the company of high society sisters Morrighan and Minnaloushe Monk. As he investigates the mysterious Monk sisters, Blackstone quickly discovers that this missing persons case has become a case of murder. The deeper he delves into the mystery, the more he becomes bewitched and entranced by the sisters. But which is his love, and which is a murderer... or are they the same person?

Part muder mystery, part supernatural thriller, and part gothic romance, the story pulls you in as more and more layers are revealed. At the same time, the characters are well-developed and each seems to reflect or balance aspects of others, both major and minor. The concept of duality is an important part of witchcraft and alchemy, and so serves as major uniting factor between the story and the characters themselves.

Fans of Anne Rice who have been lamenting her exit from the realm of the supernatural need look no further for the heiress to her legacy. But make no mistake; far from being a clone or write-alike, Mostert's writing is sincere, authentic, and stands out from the pack. Her prose is a perfectly executed balancing act of story and characterization, and her depiction of London rivals Rice's New Orleans in its swelteringly gothic romanticism. Season of the Witch fairly drips with seduction, sensuality, madness, and obsession.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Author's Website

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