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Book of Moons: A Bast Mystery Hardcover – November, 1995
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From Library Journal
While known for her Regency romances, Edghill shifted genre with Speak Daggers to Her (LJ 4/1/94) and introduced Bast (a.k.a. Karen Hightower), a practicing witch and amateur sleuth. In her second adventure, Bast "discovers" Mary, Queen of Scots, and the possibility that Mary practiced witchcraft. Bast even meets the current pretender to the Scottish throne, then unwittingly hides a stolen antique spellbook attributed to Mary. Because she is suspicious of other such thefts, Bast looks for connections to the murder of an occult bookstore owner. Edghill portrays this New York subculture with humor and panache and provides a unique, if sometimes cynical, perspective. Recommended.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I had never previously heard of this author, nor had i really considered the possibility of a Wicca oriented murder mystery. The style worked surprisingly well and had me hooked from the first chapter.
Like any good murder mystery, there aren't too many parts that you can see coming from a mile away. On the same note, it doesn't leave you with any plot twists so bizarre and unbelievable that you're questioning whether 2 manuscripts were accidentally mixed together on the way to the publisher.
Its easy to relate to the characters and understand whats going on, whether you are a part of the craft or not, and will not bore you with menial facts or random side story just for the sake of book length. I thought the writing style was a little confused in the first few chapters since it was written at what i'd consider the high-school reading level; However, in the most random places it would have a single word of copious difficulty. At about five points in the book I literally felt the need to break out a dictionary for the one word on a given page that I've never encountered in my life.
Again; i love the book, and i plan to buy the rest of this authors works.
One thing that I wish Edghill would do is develop the backgrounds of her principal characters. There's no mention of what brought Bast to the decision of joining the Craft. What was she in her pre-Craft existence?
The villian was a bit contrived, as well. The motive for murder was fine, though typical. Edghill's fleshing out of the baddie was lacking, dare I say it, "human interest". Sure, the villian is a vehicle and foil for the hero's progression through the narrative; but, a villian should also be able to do something more than be mean and wave about a firearm.
What I found more interesting was the interplay between Bast and her fellow coven members. Edghill once again blows up the myth that all pagans and Witches are loving and chummy with one another. Bast has to make a decision whether or not to "leave the nest" because, even in the best of circumstances, people do grow apart.
A good book, but not as good as the first.
Weaknesses include some of those noted by another reviewer, about character development and background. Also, Bast seems curiously friendless: doesn't she have a best friend or even a sister to confide in?
My biggest problem was the huge number of extra characters who drop by, share a bit of exposition, then disappear. This got boring, especially since the action didn't start until halfway through the book. This is a short, simple novel that can't handle so many characters.
I wish Edghill had provided more background on Mary, QOS. Like Bast, I got most of my knowledge from old movies. Unlike Bast, I can't take time off to read a biography. This made many things, like conflicts between coveners, difficult to follow.
One book store owner, important to the story, says that all Mary wanted were her rights. Does she mean the throne of Scotland? England? France? I couldn't tell.
Edghill did have some good insights about Mary, in particular the effect on her of being essentially exiled from France.
Edghill obviously enjoys showing the diversity of her community, and she doesn't mind admitting there are warts. However, some of those warts showed when the author used the term "politically correct" to dismiss some other faction of pagans.
I'm never impressed when people use that term to diss people on their side of the fence. It's an invalidation, a dismissal both of people and their feelings as being worthy. Invalidation is rarely the best way to resolve conflict, especially in an already conflicted community.
This novel and the series it belongs to will appeal most to readers who are of the pagan community, or are curious about it.
Bast's beliefs are based on Gardnerism which gained its start earlier this century. Although Gardner claimed to have based the rituals on older sources, no historical evidence has been found to support this claim. But in this book someone has uncovered a Book of Shadows that purportedly belonged to Mary, Queen of Scotts. Certain forces would like to have this book and Books of Shadows are being stolen, Mary's among them. The plot escalates as murders are committed and Bast is drawn into the conflict.
This book holds up well as a mystery, is light on the fantasy and does some interesting explorations into history. Although this volume was billed as a mystery, all of the references and in jokes point to an intended science fiction audience. I still find it worth reading.