Aug 30, 2007

Mostert - Season of the Witch

Natasha Mostert's Season of the Witch (Dutton, 2007) is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I obsessively turned the pages fearful of what might come next, but desperately needing to know, I was almost as obsessed as Gabriel Blackstone in his hunger to taste again the cosmic illumination he felt, only once, in a trip into the memory palace, a most dangerous and fascinating place..

What a wild magical and disturbing ride. "Slam the ride" is what the Remote Viewers (RV) called it when they broke into psi-space to catch glimpses of the thought and memories left by others. Gabriel is one of the most talented of RV's recruited by Eyestorm a private British company based in Oxford. With him is Cecily Franke, nicknamed Frankie. They are the two youngest recruits and amongst the few that make the final cut. They receive training from Mullins the stern leader who insists they work as a team, but Gabriel prefers to work alone. In the end his own arrogance and the death of a young woman cause him to pick up and leave. He does this without even saying goodbye to Frankie - his lover and friend.

Years later he is working in London with a computer geek named Isador. This talented fellow can hack into any system ever created. Gabriel and Isidore are partners in an illegal company that steals information for one company from their competitor. A very lucrative business being information thieves, but Gabriel has not left his past behind as he had hoped.

Frankie calls on him years later. She is married to a very wealthy man whose adult son, Robbie, is missing. He was last seen in the company of two beautiful women, the Monk sisters, Morrighan and Minnaloushe. Morrighan with her luxurious black hair and Minnaloushe a ravishing red-haired beauty. His father felt his son was bewitched by them. Robbie wanted only to be in their company. Then one night he disappeared. Frankie used her RV talent to try to find him or at least discover what happened to him, but she could sense nothing. She begs Gabriel to "jump the ride" and use his stronger talent to find Robbie. He accepts this job reluctantly, but one evening - almost without trying - he slips into psi-space and, using Robbie's memories, travels with him through a house of many rooms, a manion with hundreds, maybe thousands of doors, and Robbie knows precisely which doors to open and in which sequence. Then a woman wearing a black mask appears and leads him to a doorway he knows to be wrong, but he is so enchanted by her that he follows her to what is ultimately his death.

Gabriel is intrigued. The secret to Robbie's disappearance is obviously linked to the Monk sisters, and Gabriel promises to unravel the mystery. This leads him into a world more dangerous than he ever imagined, one of Solar witches with powers that transcend reality. One of the sisters is surely a killer, but Gabriel is so captivated by them that he becomes much like the besotted Robbie and cares only about being with these enchantresses and their magic. It is solely, though the love of a special someone that he has any chance of survival.

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