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DAEMONOMANIA (Aegypt Cycle; Vol. 3) Paperback – May 27, 2008

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Editorial Reviews Review

John Crowley's powerfully mysterious Dæmonomania adds flesh to the world he imagined in Ægypt and Love and Sleep. In this book, as in all his books, Crowley transports faithful readers to a place where time, place, and meaning come unstuck. It is in some ways the story of the end of the world as it might be, or might have been, a novel of history, eschatology, and faith with unforgettable characters and hauntingly lovely sentences. If the world's end is neither bang nor whimper but "like the shivers that pass over a horse's skin," how is it perceived by the people living through it?

Historian Pierce Moffett finds his key to understanding in New York state's Faraway Hills, as do his lover, Rose Ryder, and single mom Rosie Rasmussen, whose daughter seems to suffer from dæmonomania--spiritual possession by Renaissance magician John Dee. Each character must pick a careful path between the colliding juggernauts of past and present, magic and mundane. The wind of apocalypse is blowing:

"Scary wind.... What if it's the one?" she said.

"What one?" he said.... He in fact knew what one, for it was from him that she had heard mythologies of wind, how it bloweth where it listeth, one part of Nature not under God's thumb and therefore perhaps at the disposal of our Enemy; she had heard his stories about changer winds, how one had once blown away the Spanish Armada and thus saved England from Catholic conquest, a famous wind which if you went to look for it in the records of the time wasn't there.

In typical Crowley style, magic is seamlessly woven into the narrative. Pierce is writing the story of the end of the world while it happens, Rose joins a cult that promises salvation, and Rosie inherits a spooky legacy that might hold the secret to saving her daughter. All are involved in deep exchanges of power, and all must yield to what Crowley calls the "queasy pressure of Fate."

Crowley describes Dæmonomania best when he writes about Pierce's book: "The book... was about magic, secret histories, and the End of the World, an event that Pierce would suggest was under way undetectably even as he wrote, as the reader read." This is a complex, disturbing, and beautiful book, one that will bear rereading. Crowley's writing is gorgeous in places, frustrating in others, but always irresistible. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Combining brilliant storytelling with mind-catching philosophical musings, Crowley's (Little, Big) latest novel pushes fantasy fiction toward its most thrilling, intelligent heights. Set in a time and place that are both invented and naggingly familiar, this tale tells of a collection of average people who begin to think their world's out of whack. From the small (misplaced keys that somehow turn up), to the mid-sized (a child who claims with chilling plausibility to have lived previously) and the large (the way causes seem to be following effects, not vice versa), things are just getting weird. At the outset, Pierce Moffett, 35, a failed history professor, has departed New York for LittlevilleDwhere he's living on a book advance, writing the manuscript of a speculative history. Meanwhile, he's casually falling in love with Rose Ryder, a 28-year-old who's having an early midlife crisis. Right there the plot gets skillfully complicated. Ryder, who's also sleeping with one Mike Mucho, gets entangled with a cult of coercive Christian "healers" led by Ray Honeybeare. Mucho, who's also a Honeybeare follower, is trying to wrest his young, epileptic daughter from his estranged wife, Rosie Rasmussen. And Rasmussen is planning a Halloween party that might bring about Honeybeare's doomsday plans. Crowley intersperses this set of stories with accounts of 17th-century heretics, like the Dominican monk Bruno, a wandering philosopher who believed each man's view of the world was relative to his positionDwhich is the philosophy structuring Crowley's layered narrative, making it uncommonly reflective. Bruno's "Picatrix" manuscript, supposedly discovered by Moffett while writing his book, loosely ties Crowley's various story lines together as Rasmussen tries to save her daughter from Honeybeare, and Ryder runs off to find herself. Told in absorbing if occasionally dense, even difficult, prose, this novel is a satisfyingly long, intricate and unusually meditative offering from one of the field's finest. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590200446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590200445
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Crowley was born in the appropriately liminal town of Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942, his father then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after college to make movies, and did find work in documentary films, an occupation he still pursues. He published his first novel (The Deep) in 1975, and his 14th volume of fiction (Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land) in 2005. Since 1993 he has taught creative writing at Yale University. In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He finds it more gratifying that almost all his work is still in print.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Brian Drayton on August 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Daemonomania was worth the wait. I have enough faith in Crowley's craftmanship to believe that the multiple threads initiated in Aegypt and sustained through Love and Sleep and the present book will be resolved effectively in the final novel (if we all live so long, he to write, I to read it). The pacing of the plot and character development are paradoxical -- leisurely, and as always with Crowley revealed in minute details of language and juxtaposition, yet the total effect of these tiny strokes is a tremendous force of urgency. I reread the previous two novels just before reading this one (it has after all been some years since Love and Sleep), and the sense of flow was quite powerful. The lapidary writing, and the wonderful Crowley dialogue provide a lot of pleasure to the reader who loves great prose. Few resolutions are provided, and I suppose that this novel, of the three so far, will be least effective as a stand-alone, but then I think that Crowley has clearly commited himself to the tetralogy project, and the extended plotting that this implies. The construction of a multi-volume work can take various forms. In the mode used by Robertson Davies and Joyce Cary, members of the core cast of characters take turns as protagonist or supporting actor(s). In the approach taken by Crowley ( as with, for example, Tolkien and Tolstoy), there is one long story -- there is internal structure, to be sure, and demarcations and episodes -- but all the elements weave a complete fabric. I have to note that over the course of these novels, I have found myself changing my attitudes about almost all the characters at one time or another, as the narrative reveals more of them, in their concerns and actions, and in relationship to the other players in the drama. I don't know if Crowley planned this kaleidescopic effect, or if it's an epiphenomenon, but either way this is a remarkable work of art.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By pango on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The fact that Crowley's latest book has had zero impact on the general culture is a shame. In my local store there are two copies of the book for sale, both anonymously shelved into the SF ghetto. Many stores in New York carry no copies. THere have been maybe four reviews nationwide, the most prominent being in the Washington Post. It's as though it doesn't exist.
Perhaps the reception of this book will one day be equated with how Melville or Faulkner's novels floundered in the marketplace. Perhaps in 2075 or so, scholars and readers will be wholly bewildered. There was a new Crowley book out in 2000 -- and no one cared? It got remaindered within four months??? People thought Dave Eggers was the future of literature??
But enough conjecture. I still have hope that the common reader will discover this work and treasure it. And yes, Bantam has made a botch of the series. Having the first two volumes out of print makes a full comprehension of Daemonomania daunting for the newcomer.
Where Aegypt was vernal in all senses of the word -- a gleeful, open, exuberant work -- Daemonomania is a dimmuendo. There's a loss of heat, of possibilities. Lives and stories are wound down. There are ghosts everywhere, stuck at doors, wandering old houses. It's not a fun book, yes, and it may be the one I least return to of the (proposed) four, but it's perhaps the most essential of the quartet.
And the writing. Crowley is a prose genius: he makes the simple actions of a character determining whether to put diesel or regular fuel into his car a joy of writing. Its best scenes -- the Christmas masque, Dee and Bruno in Prague -- simply fantastic writing and even its minor characters, from Mal Cichy to Val the astrologer, are imbued with life.
A wonderful book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Harold Billings on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Daemonomania, Crowley has added the third and strongestnovel in the Aegypt series since the first volume. The Houses of the Zodiac through which this tale is carried are embdodied in the increasing melancholy and coldness that afflicts Pierce Moffett, his lover Rose Ryder who assumes a more specifically erotic role than anything yet written by Crowley, and Rosie and her daughter Samantha, whose seizures not only command the novel but command the reader's care. Characters dominate, as a Christian cult challenges Pierce's circle of friends and provides the most action in the story. The strongest narrative drive is provided in Crowley's recreation of the fall of John Dee and the burning of Bruno. But Dee's moleskin-colored globe is now in Sam's possession. Did she exist in that earlier age? The reader can hope that the next three Houses will direct Pierce and his friends towards another Spring in the final novel to come. Multi-layered, a novel that demands immediate re-reading, gorgeously languaged, this is Crowley again at his best.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
John Crowley's newest book, Daemonomania is the third of a projected four-book cycle, the first two of which, Aegypt and Love and Sleep, aroused critical attention in their own right. This third work is somewhat dependent on the other two, as it continues the stories of Pierce Moffet, Rose Ryder, his lover, Rosie Rasmussen and her daughter and ex-husband. The intertwined stories of people who have retreated from modern civilization to a small community in the Catskills is, however, only part of Crowley's narrative. Their lives, littered with all the detritus of modern life, including childhood trauma, adult regrets, lost opportunities, family illnesses, neuroses and religions cults, make entertaining, affecting, and sometimes tragic reading. And Crowley is stylistically interesting, in fact, comparable, as I have done on occasion, to Umberto Eco, despite the fact that their ironies lie in different directions. In fact, Crowley's three titles to date compare in many useful ways to Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. This comparison is apt from a contentual perspective because they both use a mysterious book to connect the modern world to the late 16th and early 17th centuries in Austria, Britain and Italy, or more specifically, to the Rosicrucians and the early formulations of science as alchemy. Crowley's technique is to juxtapose narratives from the lives of well-known alchemists such s Giordano Bruno and John Dee, with those of his anti-hero Pierce, and the people whose lives surround his. Additionally, he uses emblems such as the book mentioned above, the unfinished work of Rosie Rasmussen's uncle's associate, Fellowes Kraft, and a mysteriously recovered cream-colored crystal to make the links seem more than literary.Read more ›
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