Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
―Edgar Allan Poe
[I am] the pen merely of [God] Whose Spirit, quickly writing these things through me, I wish and I hope to be. – John Dee, Monas Hieroglyphica (‘The Hieroglyphic Monad’)
Who will live in this place between door and window? A mummer with a heavy heart and blind eyes turning, turning.
I must meditate upon my name. – Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert
Doors. Doors upon Doors upon Doors. Doors into memory. Doors into dream. Doors into magic and mystery and heartbreak. Doors into eroticism – Doors into death.
I first found Ms. Mostert when I was offered The Midnight Side by the publisher back in February. As I said in that review, The Midnight Side is . . . a brooding, atmospheric tale of suspense and psychological thrill, full of the kinds of fear and gloomy atmosphere sure to lure in even the most jaded of readers. Mostert speaks to deep waters of the mind, dark corners of the soul, the ruin brought on by wounded and damaged souls.
With my reading of Season of the Witch, winner of the 2009 Book To Talk About: World Book Day Award, I was again pulled into the deep waters of the mind, the dark corners of the soul. And once more, I was enthralled by Ms. Mostert’s grasp of language, her ability to paint a picture with words upon the page.
The book actually starts rather oddly for what I had expected from Mostert, as we meet Gabriel Blackstone, an accomplished cyber thief, as he practices his craft. Gabriel knows what he is – nothing more, or less, than a thief – but a masterful one; a savant of ones and zeroes, algorithms and cyphers, pulling cyber magic from the very air. But that is not all Gabriel is. Gabriel is a Remote Viewer. And now, his former girlfriend needs his help. For though she too is a RV, she has nowhere near the strength or skill of her once-beloved. For her new beloved, her dying husband, wishes to know the fate of his son, who has disappeared without a trace.
Though reluctant to return to this skill he has left behind, a happenstance pulls him back into this world of dreams and visions, of minds touching across space and time and realities one upon the other like the petals of a rose. And here, Mostert shows her amazing skill in crafting worlds of wonder and terror, of loss and mystery.
And as he slowly spiraled downwards, he wondered with a strange sense of detachment if he might not still be on a journey, still searching for the path that does not wander . . .
Many have spoken of the theme of the story, the happenings and characters. What I wish to address is her stunning vision of the occult, of witchcraft and psychology, seduction and passion, mysticism and the mind, all richly crafted into a world both heartrending and sublime.
A white horse neighed madly and tossed its blood-soaked mane.
None of Mostert’s characters are purely evil, none are purely good. Instead, she revels in creating characters of depth, both moral and immoral, sinner and chaste. Through talismanic images and mysterious sigils, fantastic signs and the infinite patterns of code, she drives Gabriel through the palaces of memory and the mind, wrapping the story into an atmospheric, poetic whole.
Natasha Mostert has permanent residence on my “Keepers” shelf, a place few Authors gain within my own Palace of the Mind.
I received my copy of Season of the Witch from the publisher. All thoughts are my own. Don’t fail to add all of Ms. Mostert’s books to your “Must Read” shelf if you love atmospheric, poetic writing.
About the Author:
“Natasha Mostert is a spectacularly brilliant, raven-haired psychic who saw her first ghost at the age of four. She likes to take midnight rides on horseback and practices levitation twice a day.”
However, upon reflection I didn’t think my editor would be too amused by this flight of fancy. So here it is, the official (and much less exciting) Natasha Mostert biography:
Natasha Mostert is a South African novelist and screenwriter, who specializes in contemporary psychological thrillers with mystical and paranormal themes. She grew up in Pretoria and Johannesburg but currently lives in London with her husband, Frederick. She still keeps an apartment in the university town of Stellenbosch in the Cape province.