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mysticism

Review: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler – Beautiful

23014670“But the heaviest things, I think, are the secrets. They can drown you if you let them.”
Ally Carter

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank — but that’s not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
― P.T. Barnum

Tragedy and loss are sounds. The slip of waves across rock. The cry of a loon across a dark lake. The patter of rain against midnight windows.

They are water, streaming from here to there, giving life. And taking it away.

His mother, Paulina, circus performer, fortune-teller, magician’s assistant, and mermaid, walked into the water when he was seven. His father soon followed, destroyed by grief. And only Simon, and his baby sister Enola, remain. Simon, a lonely young librarian, who clings to the home he grew up in, which itself clings desperately to the edge of the cliff above the sea, falling to wrack and ruin, a mere memory, a ghost of the warm family home it once was. Simon, who lives alone while his sister, like her mother before her, lives the life of the circus, the carnival, reading the fortunes of the lonely, the lovelorn, the lost.

But then, the book arrives. And time begins to waver, back and forth through time, the past melding with the present through the words of yet another “walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”* A poor player indeed, who struts and frets across a traveling carnival stage. There is magic here. Magic and pain and loss and death.

And drowning.
Always drowning.

Simon’s tale reaches back, back to Hermelius H. Peabody’s Portable Magic and Miracles Traveling Show. Hermelius H. Peabody, self-proclaimed visionary in entertainment and education. Hermelius H. Peabody, who one day comes upon a real Wild Boy – a Wild Boy who was left in the woods to die, and instead lives – lives, and learns to listen to the water. Learns to vanish.

“The Book of Speculation”
is a small miracle. History and mystery, mysticism and the water. Always, always the water. A lost book, a lost soul. A lost history found, beliefs crumpled.

And the water sings, its quiet song of death.

I received “The Book of Speculation” from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Highly recommended.

  • Shakespeare, Hamlet
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Review: Windwalker By Natasha Mostert

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
-Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
William Blake – The Everlasting Gospel

 

 windwalkerHaunting and elegant. I have head Ms. Mostert’s works described this way before, by other reviewers. This, and so very much more, is the work of Natasha Mostert. For she has a voice that is deeply evocative, an exceptional, mystical writing style. Natasha’s turn of prose is both otherworldly and sensual, a voice that sends chills down my spine and reaches into my soul, making a home for itself in the sweet, dark recesses of my existence. Her writing comes to mind over and over, in the dark of night or the bright light of day, a paean to her brilliant style, as her ability to paint rich, intriguing portraits with words which steal into my awareness in the most common of moments. Words which bring me to my knees, to weep and sigh, to long deeply and without respite.

Kepler’s Bay. A remote and forbidding town in a remote and forbidding land, bitter and forlorn. Perched on the razor edge between the Namib and the sea, Kepler’s Bay clings to the edge of the world with barely restrained ferocity, much as do the creatures of the great desert upon which it backs. Kepler’s Bay. The melancholy call of the soo-oop-wa, the never-ending wind, maddens, takes piecemeal grains of the soul, eventually leaving behind naught but a dry, desiccated husk – a body walking with no spark within.

The Namib, oldest desert in the world, ‘The land God made in anger,’ say the San people. But he had always thought that only a god in pain could have imagined a place like this. And from this land of soaring dunes and brutal winds one day appears a wild man, filled with pain, with fever and madness. Madness and passion. Violence and death. Samuel Becket said: “All men are born mad. Some remain so.” And is madness not pain, turned in upon oneself?

Across the desert, in the lush green of the English countryside, a woman arrives. Lost and maddened in her own right, she arrive upon the doorstep of a sad and haunted estate. As she sinks into the stories of this place of madness, fratricide and pain, broken shadows and haunted rooms, one soon cannot truly discern where the house leaves off and the woman begins. Quiet desperation. Ghosts and haunting images through a camera’s lens.

They are so close, and yet so far apart. So very, very far apart. Has it been this way, lives upon lives, sinking into the past? And what of unintended consequences, the vagaries of fate and karma?

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Through our lives, do our souls search? Do they seek desperately, yearning for that which was, which could have been, or which shall never be? And is evil merely the absence of good, demons playing bones with our lives?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Balen All rights reserved.

How many paths must we walk, how many lives to be lived? How long must we suffer before paths may cross, before we might know peace? Do our souls wander alone, searching beyond ourselves for knowledge, deep in the rending silence of the night? A photography of insanity may be a shard of light. Questions and blood and dreams of deaths long past, pain and ancient desire. All are spread before us between these pages. Allow her words to reel you in, to touch and tease, sooth and savage by turns. To think. To dream. To sorrow.

To hope.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. It touched me more deeply than any of her works yet have – and those have been absolutely brilliant. I hate reviews that begin with “If you like the works of” to be honest, but if the interspersed quotes touch your soul, I strongly, very strongly, encourage you to read Windwalker. And then her other works as well. I don’t believe, once you have read this one, that you will be able to resist.

Review: Secrets of a Mayan Moon – Paty Jager

secrets of a mayan moon
Click cover to go to Good Reads page.

I love books that utilize archeology as the basis for their story line. The history, the intelligence, the people. It is all captivating. Even more so when a book, though it may be fiction, is based upon good, solid scientific knowledge.

Paty Jager has put in the study, with Secrets of a Mayan Moon, that is required to make a spectacular modern archeological novel. Set in the jungles of Guatemala, Jager weaves Mayan history with the modern problems of drug runners and the looting of historical sites for profit.

Isabella Mumphrey is a genius. She has worked harder than anyone else in her field, battered by others jealous of her brilliance and dedication to her studies of Mayan history. Desperate for funding for her studies, due to be cut from her university, she jumps at the chance to take her first field trip out of the country, and save her work. Lured to Guatemala by her mentor and old family friend, she travels far into the jungle with a guide, supposedly sent by her mentor. Little does she know, things are not as they seem. Not only is the jungle dark and deep, but also the truth of her ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ is darker than she could have ever imagined.

There is a realistic tone to the book, with just a bit of mysticism and a thread of romance. Neither the mysticism nor the romance was overdone, which I appreciated.  Too many novels seem to lean heavily on the romance bits to cover for a lack of writing skills. With this first Isabella Mumphrey book, I am happy to say that this was not the case. The point was the story, and a grand adventure it was. There are multiple layers to Secrets of a Mayan Moon. The archeology, of course, as well as the drugs, the looting, and the mystery of why Isabella is truly there. But there is also the truth of who Isabella, herself, really is. IS she who she has always thought? And why have her parents never loved her? All in all, a very well developed and enjoyable book. I had never read any of Paty Jager’s work before, so this book was quite an enjoyable surprise. You may see her other works at GoodReads. Ms. Jager writes a great deal of “Petticoat Western” style romance books, so if that is your thing, I would recommend those to you also. That genre isn’t to my taste, and makes me wonder why Ms. Jager decided to write these books on archeological adventure – but I am certainly glad that she did!

secrets of an aztec temple
Click cover to go to Good Reads page.

I received this book for review, but have already bought the next book, Secrets of an Aztec Temple. I greatly look forward to reading it.

Highly recommended!

Review: Wink by Eric Trant – Five Star Review

wink
Click to order the book. Really. click it. You won’t regret it. You need to read this book!

Sometimes we hear a voice. Deep at times, at times trembling on the very edge of hearing, a vibration, a whisper. A voice that reaches into your soul and changes what was there before. Rarely do you find these voices, but when they do, they are to be cherished.

Eric Trant has that voice. He speaks of the darkness in the human soul. The pain, the agony of savagery and brutality, of hopelessness and agony too deep to bear. Of the absolute depths of what can pass for a human soul. I could taste Trant’s characters on the back of my tongue, copper and brass and old, diseased blood. Smell the decay of souls rotted beyond redemption.

Yet on top of that, he layers a sheen of hope, a blue-shimmering breath of possibility, scented and yet not seen. Two children, separated by the width of a yard, and by a chasm of darkness without end. One child broken, trapped within her house, neat and tidy and real. The other living inside a nightmare with no end: It was a place where the unburied dead mired themselves between life and death. It was a place of half-living, half-dead, spiritless creatures, and except for Marty, what lived there did not walk and dwell like other living things, but crawled and crept and slithered and hid from the light.

So much of this book is lived within the ‘real world’. A world of poverty, drug addiction, hoarding, hatred and child abuse. A world of no hope, no joy, no possibilities. And then, things begin to change . . .

Thrilling, painful, heart-rending and yet hopeful. All of these things and more. I highly recommend this book, no matter if you like thrillers and paranormal, or are up for some heavy-duty literary fiction. The book walked right inside me and turned on a light in a dark place.

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