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Book Review: The Book of Shadows - James Reese
(William Morrow/An Imprint of Harper CollinsPublishers: March 2002 - ISBN# 0-06-621015-1)
James Reese has fashioned a tale of Anne Rice(ish) gothic and ethereal erotica, which is a channel for a small band of brilliantly scandalous and irresistible characters. The Book of Shadows takes place in 19thc Brittany, in spite of that it's narrative skillfully sweeps the reader into a past long gone by with legends of familiars, witches, trials, orgies of both deep sensuality and slaughter!
Herculine, a child vastly unlike other children is cast off and brought up in the convent of C____, owing to the curious and bloody death of her mother. There she matures, living an isolated, scholastic life - one that does not prepare her mind to embrace that, which so infinitely sets her apart and brings upon her the accusation of witchcraft.
And witch she is!
Saved from the human deliverance of her soul by two 'elementals' (spirits), Father Louis a ribald defrocked priest and Madeline his one-time earthly lover, (who leaves a shadow of all too human blood on every occasion she materializes) and Sebastiana a sister/mentor witch. It is Sebastiana who tells Herculine the mesmerizing history of the craft of witchery and gifts her with her own book of shadows (a journal painstakingly fashioned with spells, events and a witches life's history.)
Reese shackles each character with a history so purely their own and masterfully interwoven within the main character's tale the reader can do naught but be utterly absorbed by the sharp, pulsating, tempo of 'Shadows'. He pulls the reader page after satisfying page to a skillful culmination exiting the legend with no stones unturned or plait unbraided in this ethereal, sensational debut novel.
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