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Waking the Moon [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Hand
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The reign of men has ended in this gripping thriller from Elizabeth Hand, and the fate of the world is on the line

Sweeney Cassidy is the typical college freshman at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine in Washington, DC. She drinks. She parties. And she certainly doesn’t suspect that underneath its picturesque Gothic façade, the University is a haven for the Benandanti, a cult devoted to suppressing the powerful and destructive Moon Goddess. But everything is about to change as Sweeney learns that her two new best friends are the Goddess’s Chosen Ones.
Rich and engrossing, Waking the Moon is a seductive post-feminist thriller that delves into an ancient feud, where the real and magical collide, and one woman is forced to make a decision that will change the world.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Elizabeth Hand including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Sweeney Cassidy, a naive freshman at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine in Washington, D.C., falls in with the wrong crowd, she is expelled for taking part in a lurid escapade. But Hand (Icarus Descending) offers no usual tale of adolescent antics in this full-blooded gothic fantasy. The university is a haven of the Benandanti, who for millennia have guarded against the return of their ancient foe, Othiym Lunarsa, the Moon Goddess. In Hand's post-feminist tale, however, the goddess is not a comfortable earth mother figure but a powerful destroyer. The Benandanti are unaware that Sweeney's friends Oliver and Angelica are the Chosen Ones, whose violent coupling under the moon will begin to wake Othiym. Oliver kills himself, Angelica disappears and Sweeney is whisked away by the Benandanti. Twenty years later, Sweeney's summer intern at the National Museum of Natural History turns out to be the son of her old classmates, the result of that wild moonlit night. Young Dylan's mother has become Angelica Furiano, a New Age author with a large following of goddess worshippers. As Angelica's power grows, fed by the blood of young men, she is gradually becoming the goddess. But Sweeney, vowing to thwart the transformation, confronts Othiym in an apocalyptic showdown. Blending the ancient with the modern, the fantastic with the real, Hand has created a violently sensual fable helped by smart pacing and vibrant prose.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“A potent socio-erotic ghost story.” —William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Spook Country

“Hand is a superior stylist.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Superior. An author worth watching, not to mention recommending.” —Booklist

Product Details

  • File Size: 3504 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 30, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009O3ZNB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,775 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but awkward August 29, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The awakening of an ancient, fiendish goddess in a new age is witnessed by a young college freshman named Sweeney Cassidy. As if an ancient, fiendish goddess awakening weren't bad enough, Sweeney's two best friends happen to be predestined pawns in the plans of the goddess and the Benandanti, a pseudo-religious sect of protectors. In fact, Sweeney's best friend, Angelica, becomes a sort of avatar for this goddess. The book spans Sweeney's 20 year ordeal to stop her best friend from unleashing a power bent on controlling the world.
This is the first book I've read by the author and I found the writing to be ornate; it bombards the reader's senses with rich descriptions of people, places, and things. Some readers are turned off by this type of writing (my wife says she just skims that stuff) but I find that sensory prose illuminates the story and Elizabeth Hand does this flourishingly. There are also a handful of very tasty surprises that continued to prod me curiously and expectantly forward.
My major complaints about the book include the mixture of first-person and third-person perspectives. Certainly, this is not a fundamental no-no that writers must avoid at all costs. However, by the end of the book I found Sweeney's narrative to be the only thing I really cared to hear about. The secondary characters, though interesting, simply didn't hold up against the profoundly mundane Sweeney struggling to cope with a twenty-year-old legacy of the bizarre, and her lover Dylan who is inextricably woven into it all. Sweeney's scenes were just so much more emotionally genuine that the others were buried by her. I would've enjoyed the book even more if it had been written entirely in first-person.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be seduced November 7, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Leaving her protective parents to go away to college, Sweeney Cassidy goes wild. She skips classes, stays out all night, and basically spends her first semester constantly drunk. Into this haze come the ethereal Oliver and the seductive Angelica, who become her best friends, and with both of whom Sweeney falls in love. The only trouble is, the school is controlled by an Illuminati-esque secret society; Angelica is a chosen avatar of a vengeful goddess; and Oliver is marked as her first sacrifice. This situation plays out tragically, and a shaken Sweeney transfers to another school, where she gets her degree and settles into "normal" life. Then, eighteen years later, her college ghosts come back to haunt her, as old friends come out of the woodwork, and Angelica prepares for the final denouement with the secret society. Sweeney is suddenly back in the mysterious world she glimpsed as a teenager.
Mixed in with this hypnotically written story is a political battle between the Matriarchy (represented by Angelica) and the Patriarchy (the secret society); between the Goddess and the world that has ignored her for millennia. One of the best touches of Hand's book is that she doesn't really take sides, except maybe to hint that the fault of both philosophies is the extremes they go to. Even when Sweeney makes her decision at the end, she makes it for personal reasons and not because she agrees with either side. This was the book that got me investigating Goddess mythology several years ago, and it's also a fever-dream of a story, with a sympathetic heroine and a unique style. I've read it a gazillion times.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle Ground? November 13, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Is there any middle ground with this book? The reviews here seem to stake out extreme positions, but is a more nuanced review possible?

Hand is a fine writer. The writing flows smoothly and easily. At times the pace slowed a bit leaving me reluctant to pick the book up at times, but these periods alternated with ones when I could not put it down. Hand uses the sense of smell well to mark characters and events. She was evocative in this use and it worked well. A few other hints were a bit more heavy handed, but not unbearably so.

Yet, when all is said and done, the book is frustrating. If the solution to overcoming Othiym is so simple, why not do it earlier? If the Benandanti have been protecting the world from Othiym's return for thousands of years, what were they doing the past 18 as Othiym returned? It seems as if they were only watching their own members get killed off. Sweeney, our heroine, goes wild her first semester, then after mid-semester trauma flat-lines into Plain Jane for the next 20 years.

The incongruities here make it difficult to take the story seriously. In the end, as good as the writing is, one leaves feeling empty and wondering why you pushed through nearly 500 pages of text for a bland outcome.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Woman in the Moon March 4, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sweeney Cassidy comes to college and makes some unusual friends, Angelica and Oliver, destined to be pawns in an ancient war between a moon goddess and the Benandanti, a group of scholars who seek to prevent the goddess's return. The first half of the book takes place while the main characters are students and the second half picks up nearly twenty years later.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of this book. There are parts of it where the writing, particularly the descriptions, is so vivid and sharp it jumps off the page at you. Then there are parts of the book where the prose clanks like a noisy washing machine. The plot is interesting, but the resolution seems flimsy at best. Some of the relationships between the characters are pretty unbelievable as well. Even after finishing the novel, I still feel like I only got half the story. No one's motivations really become clear by the end of the story and Hand offers no explanation for one character's return near the end of the book. There are quite a few things that happen in the story like that, where something will occur out of the blue, but you never find out why or how it happened.

I think Hand's overall concept was sound, but I wish she would have crafted a better ending and fleshed out a few more of the characters, as well as filled in a few loose ends. I think what was good about this novel was really good, but by the same token, the bad sections are really bad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money
This book was a complete dud and weird. Plus, I found three spelling errors. Reads like something on a amateur writer's site.
Published 13 days ago by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars ... which in my opinion is what makes a really good book. And I will...
I know I will remember the details of this book for a long time which in my opinion is what makes a really good book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by LIKARO
5.0 out of 5 stars blazing light and imploding darkness told in a true artist's prose
this book really blew me away. it's completely original in it's storyline- I'd say that the description available is simplified beyond measure- and the interpretation possibilities... Read more
Published 10 months ago by dylan winchester
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth Hand is wonderful author...
Great new author I found, love her story telling.
Published 10 months ago by Gram
4.0 out of 5 stars A very well written, well researched, linguistically beautiful tale.
Waking the Moon is a beautifully written story with poetic, lyrical prose. I first read it over 20 years ago and it has stood the test of time more or less. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Veronica Lynn Pit Bull
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay
I bought this book based on a review I read in Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine. Also, I thought I recognized the author's name as someone I'd read before. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Esther Horn
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad luck with this used book
The book had to be thrown out~it had a strange chemical smell, Never had this experience with a book before.
Published 23 months ago by Etta W.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Walk Through Darkness
As I was nearly finished reading this book, I was led to an article about benevolent sexism--sexism disguised as compliments yet underneath demeans the person complimented. Read more
Published on April 7, 2013 by Elizabeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern meets Ancient
The introduction of ancient beliefs and rituals to the 20th century college environment was intriguing and the research done by the author was evident. Read more
Published on March 4, 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold to the point of heavy-handed, this book is uneven but undeniably...
On Sweeney's first day at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine, she's improbably befriended by Oliver, enigmatic and fey, and Angelica, gorgeous and... Read more
Published on February 15, 2013 by Juushika
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More About the Author

A couple of years after seeing Patti Smith perform, Elizabeth Hand flunked out of college and became involved in the nascent punk scenes in DC and NYC. From 1979 to 1986 she worked at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum; she was eventually readmitted to university to study cultural anthropology, and received her B.A. She is the author of many novels, including Winterlong, Waking the Moon (Tiptree and Mythopoeic Award-Winner), Glimmering, and Mortal Love, and three collections of stories, including the recent Saffron and Brimstone. Her fiction has received the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopeoic, Tiptree, and International Horror Guild Awards, and her novels have been chose as New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books. She has also been awarded a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship. A regular contributor to the Washington Post Book World and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Hand lives with her family on the Maine Coast.

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