Book Review: Missing Witches

reviewcover-missing witchesTitle: Missing Witches

Author: Risa Dickens & Amy Torok

Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Witchcraft, Witches, Feminism

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When you start looking for witches, you find them everywhere. As seekers and practitioners reclaim and restore magic to its rightful place among powerful forces for social, personal, and political transformation, more people than ever are claiming the identity of “Witch.” But our knowledge of witchcraft and magic has been marred by erasure, sensationalism, and sterilization, the true stories of history’s witches left untold.

Through meditations, stories, and practices, authors Risa Dickens and Amy Torok offer an intersectional, contemporary lens for uncovering and reconnecting with feminist witch history. Sharing traditions from all over the world—from Harlem to Haiti, Oaxaca to Mesopotamia—Missing Witches introduces readers to figures like Monica Sjoo, HP Blavatsky, Maria Sabina, and Enheduanna, shedding light on their work and the cultural and sociopolitical contexts that shaped it. Structured around the 8 sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, each chapter includes invocations, rituals, and offerings that incorporate the authors’ own wisdom, histories, and journeys of trauma, loss, and empowerment. Missing Witches offers an inside look at the vital stories of women who have practiced—and lived—magic.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Missing Witches by Risa Dickens & Amy Torok was not what I expected. Going into this book, I was expecting a comprehensive telling of the unknown (or little known) histories of the witch… and it is only by a tenuous stretch of that expectation that I can say that the book tried.

The overall problem I faced is that the book was exceedingly scattered in the way it was written. The narrative was longwinded and cut frequently by even longer quotes and roundabout asides by the authors. On any given page, I found it difficult to discern what the current topic even was.

It is my feeling that the book was not organized well, and was written in such a way that only the most determined will be able to slog through it. This book will not be accessible to your average reader, and frankly, I’d encourage you to find your history elsewhere if you can.

Book Review: Plus One

 

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Title: Plus One

Author: Elizabeth Fama

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult, Alternate History

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Fantastic. That’s what I have to say about this book. I’m a  great lover of dystopian, so it was no surprise that I picked up Plus One at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was a bit of a surprise how much I enjoyed this book. Unlike most YA dystopians, though the characters were young, I never felt like the narrative was dumbed down, or that the characters were overly dramatic and whiny as in a lot of books of this type. Technically speaking, the writing was clear, concise, fast-paced, and at times, heart-breakingly beautiful.

The core of this story followed Soleil, a young girl who scrapes by in the dregs of her society. Long ago the world was split into shifts… those that live in the day (The Rays), and those that live in the night (The Smudges). This was originally enacted during a great plague to even out the dwindling workforce and keep medical facilities open around the clock, but also to keep the population segregated in a way that would minimize contact during the outbreaks. It worked, and the world adopted this new way of life as the norm… and then never changed back—unfortunately, the new system wasn’t equal. The Smudges, like Soleil and her grandfather, Francois, work in menial factory jobs and see their world in shades of black and gray. Voices are rarely raised above a whisper, and they are fed meds throughout the day just so they can sleep. The streets are filled with thug groups like the psychotic Noma, and their every move is watched by Hour Guards that keep them from missing curfew under any circumstances. Her only comfort is her grandfather, who is on his deathbed, and a long lost friend who used to leave her artistic messages in school, to make life worth living. The world of the Smudges is a dark place, ruled by fear and brutality.

What follows is a heart-wrenching thrill-ride as Soleil fights with every bit of her being to make sure her grandfather sees his great-granddaughter before he dies. Unfortunately, his great-granddaughter is a Ray. In order to accomplish her goal, she will have to break every law, and throw her future away…but that’s who Soleil is. She doesn’t love half-way. She’s an all-in type of girl, and this story follows her every up and down as she battles to do what she thinks is right, and finds love and friendship along the way with people she never thought it possible to care about.

If I had to pick one word to sum up Plus One, it’d be: Beautiful. It is filled with thrills, action, adventure, deep friendships, heart-warming romance, and a good deal of tragedy. I fell into the world building effortlessly, and didn’t come up for air until the last word was spoken. I can’t imagine this story being written any better than it was, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s turned into a movie somewhere along the line (I’ll be there at opening, thank you). I adored this book and I will read it again and again.

Would I recommend it? Hell yes. This book comes out April 8th, 2014. Pick up a copy. No excuses. Books like this don’t come along every day, and it’d be a shame if anyone were to miss the beautiful message Soleil portrays throughout this story: That there are some things, like love, family, and human decency that you fight for without question. You fight until your last breath, even if you must sacrifice everything for them.