Somehow I managed to read 3 completely different books included in very different genres that had major turning points in relation to the same crazy spring/summer ritual called Beltane. It revolves around May Day, or May first, for all you non-Wiccan out there. I read these books so long ago, that I’ll be brief.
The first book I got a hold of was a gift I would have never come across but fit in well with my love of weirdo fantasy. The Age of Misrule:World’s End by Mark Chadburn is described as a “Pedal to the floor, high octane fantasy thriller that pitches magic and wonder into a pop culture mash-up of the modern world…One part Lord of the Rings, one part illuminatus!, one part Arthurian romance, one part Harry Potter – 100% original!” I think that description is pretty accurate, but I can’t say I enjoyed the book as much as whoever made that statement.
World’s End is the first part of a trilogy that follows 5 unlikely heroes throughout England as they are chased by all kinds of crazy creatures bent on their destruction before they can find a handful of age-old mystic objects used to hopefully save, you guessed it, man-kind (as we know it, which isn’t so great if you ask any of the heroes) by Beltane.
Not knowing much about Celtic mythology, I should have at least guessed there would be connections made between all the new-agey energy vortex points of today, the Fiery Network of Earth Magic that travels through ancient lands and crosses various points including the greater Stone Henge area, Loch Ness, and a couple famous Arthurian castles and legendary villages, and the battle between some really inhuman gods that can’t be completely qualified as good or evil but are fighting over the right to wander our lands which they lost oh-so-long-ago. Or maybe I couldn’t have guessed that. Anyway, it was a fun vacation book with some mediocre dialogue, a couple of interesting drug trips, some random sex stuff, and a mostly unpredictable ending.
I decided to leave the fantasy arena to head down young adult lane for my next book. The Splendor Falls, by Rosemary Clement-Moore, seemed like just the thing. Sylvie, a 17 year old prima ballerina, is injured beyond ever being able to dance again and finds herself lost from her Manhattan based world of travel and sophistication and catapulted to, of all places, Alabama.
Her deceased father is from an old family there and still has a cousin restoring the family manse with the hope of turning it into a bed and breakfast. I figured there would be a love triangle between Sylvie and a couple good ole country boys, some back-stabbing-by-a-new-best-friend drama, and a large dose of critical soul searching, but guess what! Somewhere in Alabama exists a line of the aforementioned Fiery Network of Earth Magic! And there is a circle of teenagers who meet secretly and do secret things! And the Beltane is approaching! And our ballerina is seeing ghosts, reading the diary of the young girl who died mysteriously long ago, and finding some exceptional powers of her own! There is a love triangle, but a Handsome Scotsman is involved. He is a geologist and is studying the rock formations which may be the same as those rocks used to build STONE HENGE!
I couldn’t resist all the above exclamation points, but I really did like this book. I had no idea where it was going and then was very curious to see how things would be resolved once it got there. Sylvie progresses from being a “poor me” victim with a sharp tongue to a stronger, more internally confident individual. Some characters were much better developed than others, and there was a little eye-rolling at how things wrapped themselves up in the end, but I think the link to that Fiery Network made this book a lot more enjoyable than a typical teenage romance novel.
The third book on my magical mystical tour is one I put off as long as I could. I can hardly believe I’m admitting it, but I finally jumped into the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldan. Yes, there are now 7 thousand paged books in this unfinished series, and yes, it does qualify as a romance novel – I wish I could find the exact quote that includes a phrase something like “You will make me your master…” thrust, thrust, but, well, it was kind of fun, in a sugar addiction sort of way.
In self defense, I argue that this book falls in the historical fiction category, as I have learned much about 17th century Scottish clan life as well as a little bit about Scottish/English clashes surrounding the False King (True King – I don’t know, maybe I can’t really tell much about that part). It also touches on my beloved fantasy genre since the main character, Claire, travels back in time after scurrying around some Stone Henge-esque rocks on top of a grassy hill DURING BELTANE!
I won’t say much more about Outlander, other than that I had to force myself to read other sugar books so I could suppress my urge to run out and buy the next in the series. Now that time has passed, I can smile at the memory, and I know I’m capable of steering clear of book 2 until life demands nothing more or me than sitting in my jammies for hours on end with absolutely no interruptions.
So, interested in that Fiery Network? You pick the genre, there it is. Have at it.