Fiction & Literature

Occult fiction, poetry, and literary criticism.

Review: Playing with Fire, by Dotti Enderle

By Mike Gleason | September 4, 2003 | Leave a comment

Playing With Fire: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 2, by Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703400, 140 pp (+ preview), 2003

The adventures of the Fortune Tellers Club continue. School has started up again, so there is less time to agonize over the typical teen problems. Of course now there is homework to worry about – and boys.

Anne finds herself falling for the new boy at school, Eric. He is the new quarterback on the middle school football team and she is on the cheer squad. Of course, every other girl on the cheer squad has their eyes on him as well.

Rivalries begin to flair, although not among the Club members. Rumors spread: Eric’s old home burned down and he was responsible; Eric is planning to take another girl to the big Seventh Grade Dance.

Then the fire incidents begin: homework burned; a fire which destroys the school library. And Eric is near every time it happens. Could he be causing it? Is he a pyromaniac? Or is he pyrokinetic?

Eric explains about the fire at his former home – a football thrown, loose wires leading to a short circuit. Sure he was responsible, but it wasn’t intentional.

The girls are convinced, on little evidence, that he is causing the fires through pyrokinesis. They are sure they can cure him by soaking him with “moon water”. Well, read the book for the outcome of the experience.

This series is not designed to be recruiting material. The children are not Pagan. In fact, there is no indication of what religion, if any, they follow. The heroines are your average, normal pre- and early-teen children. Unsure of themselves? It goes without saying. Trying to hide their differences? Absolutely. In other words they are just like 95% of the population of any middle school (or junior high school) in the country.


Review: The Lost Girl, by Dotti Enderle

By Mike Gleason | September 4, 2003 | Leave a comment

The Lost Girl: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 1, by Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738702536, 125 pp. (+ preview), 2002

This is a series intended for the middle school crowd. It is light in tone and although some parts might be considered “spooky” there is nothing terribly frightening or threatening.

Three young girls (Juniper [whose mother reads tea leaves], Gena, and Anne) each use their growing, individual talents to help each other in their times of difficulty. It is reminiscent, in a lower key way, of the “Witches Night Out” series by Silver RavenWolf.

As with any group of young folks, there is the popular one (Anne), the quiet one (Gena) and the “odd” one (Juniper). This leads to the various kids taking the lead in various circumstances.

The books are easy to read, not at all preachy, and fun. They illustrate a variety of divination techniques from the very simple (the Magic 8 Ball) to the more traditional (Tarot, scrying, and tea leaves).

This first book deals with every parent’s worst nightmare – a young child missing. The three members of the Fortune Tellers Club don’t start out to find the youngster (Laurie Simmons). Instead they are looking for Gena’s lost retainer.

Juniper, being the “experienced” one of the group, feels the call to help locate Laurie. When none of her usual methods (scrying and Tarot) work, she resorts to trying new methods – in this case, psychometry. She becomes so focused on finding Laurie that she dreams of her.

Add to the psychic confusion the turmoil and angst which is so much a part of the pre- and early-teen years (especially during the summer when there are more hours to agonize over such) and you have a story which any youngster can identify with.


Review: God’s Debris, by Scott Adams

By The Wizzard | July 1, 2003 | Leave a comment

God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment, by Scott Adams
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 07407219089, 2001, 132 pp.

This is one of those books that attempts to make you think and to bring up ideas and ways of thought through the medium of a carefully crafted novel. It reminds me of such books as Illusions by Robert Bach or The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman which also lay down their ideas through the medium of a novel rather than directly addressing them in a traditional manner.

This could be reminiscent of the works of Plato where he would put forth his philosophical arguments in the form of dialogues usually cantered around Socrates.

The problem I have with this attempt is that it never really flows. In many ways it is too specific and too crafted, you can feel the narrative dragging you along in the direction the author wants your thoughts to go and there is no real room for variance. The beauty of a book like Illusions was that there was never any real direct reference to the ideas the Author was trying to get across, they were subtly buried in the ideas of the storyline and you came to the conclusions yourself, almost without realising it. Not as solid fact but just as a kind of new information and way of thinking that you didn’t posses before, it makes sense in it’s own context.

I found God’s Debris to be somewhat disjointed. There were many excellent ideas in the book, things that made sense in their own way, however they didn’t all seem to gel naturally together, it felt like Adams had taken all his ponderings and ideas and various possibilities and then attempted to sew them all together into one seamless story that is intended to leave you sat at the end thinking that yes, I guess it really could be like that, and the challenge is, as the book challenges on the cover, to try and work out why it couldn’t work. The trouble is that many of the arguments in the book are flawed and based on very large assumptions that you feel the narrative should challenge but never does. The whole story revolves around two individuals; the wise old man who we suppose knows everything and the naive yet potential young man whom he decides to impart his wisdom upon. The trouble is that the young man never really challenges anything he is told, he offers up occasional loose or obvious resistance but is quick to accept whatever explanation he is given and then accept that what he was just told must of course be true and make sense. The story, as it progresses, builds each new idea on the conclusion of previous ideas which are in turn based on previous ones, all reached via large assumption and little challenge or development, so as it progresses it becomes less and less cohesive and you are left thinking, well I guess you could say that but it kinda contradicts what you said earlier and if that’s true then how can so and so be true as well etc.

So if the intention of the book was to throw up interesting questions in their own right then certainly it succeeds, there is plenty in this book to think about. The mistake, I think, was to present it in such a way that all the ideas are forced to fit together to make one larger more grandiose idea that doesn’t quite make it. If you are looking for a book that you can read through and then sit back at the end and go, wow, then Richard Bach’s Illusions is more suited, but if you want a book that actually brings up specific ideas and gives you many different things to think about then this book might be what you are looking for.


Review: From the Ashes, by Meghan Brunner

By Mike Gleason | May 1, 2003 | Leave a comment

From the Ashes, by Meghan Brunner
First Books, 0759681708, 544 pages (+ glossary and character listing), 2002

Although I’m not a Ren Faire goer myself, being chronically cash-strapped, this book rang very true for me. The differences between a week-long Pagan gathering and a Ren Faire are not that great. I felt, immediately, like I knew these characters.

There were minor typographical errors (missing words, some irregular spacing, and such) but nothing major enough to detract from my enjoyment of Meghan’s crisp and vivid writing style.

By the time I was a quarter of the way through the book I had one major regret – that I only had another 390 pages to go. I already knew that I was going to want more (which is why I am glad to see that this is only the start of a series).

The characters are very vivid and have rapidly become like members of my extended family. I will miss them while I wait for the next instalment in this wonderful series of books.

This is not a children’s fantasy book. It is set firmly in the real world and deals with real-life issues such as sexuality, jealousy, power trips and more. It is not blatantly sexual, but it does not shy away from the topic either.

Although it has Pagan/magickal themes running through it, it is a book, and a series, which should be thoroughly enjoyed by a wide cross section of readers. One does not need a working knowledge of Paganism or magick to understand it. More mundane readers will simply enjoy the stories of personal interaction and growth which a major part of this wonderful book.

The development of characters and plot-lines is very smooth and vivid, and makes the images come alive. I have seldom read a book where I developed an understanding and empathy for the characters as quickly as I did with these people.

Ryna and Phoenix are meant for each other, but neither is sure the other shares those feelings. In the manner of all lovers, they stumble through the opening phases of what each hopes will be a life-long commitment. They brave dangers for each other, often from a single enemy shared though the centuries. They find happiness, share the fear of loss, and find themselves part of a family which offers love and support unconditionally – something Phoenix has looked for all her life. Along the way, as often happens with lovers, they spread their happiness through their circle of friends and acquaintances unconsciously.

Not to give away secrets or spoil anything, I must say that the “initiation” ceremony near the end of the book is profoundly moving, and I wish I could have taken part in it myself.

If you want a fun read, something to take your mind off day-to-day mundania, the price of this book is money well spent. On top of that, the book is available in a variety of formats (Electronic – ISBN 0-7596-8169-4; Rocket – ISBN 0-7596-8172-4; Softcover ISBN 0-7596-8170-8; and Hardcover ISBN 0-7596-8171-6). So, choose how you want the book, then go to www.1stbooks.com and order your copy today.


Review: The Little Book of Vegan Poems, by Benjamin Zephaniah

By Psyche | November 15, 2002 | Leave a comment

The Little Book of Vegan Poems, by Benjamin Zephaniah
AK Press, 1902593332, 2000

The Little Book of Vegan Poems, aimed at both children and adults, begins with a compilation of definitions from various dictionaries and encyclopedias before moving into the poetry. This little book has it all: veganism, animal rights, nature, limericks, hell, even vegan erotic poetry – some cute, some vaguely disturbing, many nonsensical, all eco-friendly, makes me wonder if this book was printed on recycled paper.

There’s a warning to meat eaters on the back and inside that the poetry might offend them, but the poem ‘Eat Your Words’ pretty much sums it up with ‘And vegetarian poets / Make me nervous quite a lot.’

There is a handy list of vegetarian and animal rights groups and resources listed in the back of the book, along with other excellent titles from AK Press, as well as a short biography of Mr. Zephaniah.

For the vegan who has everything but.


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