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Love Is the Law Mass Market Paperback – October 15, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels including Sensation and The Damned Highway (with Brian Keene). His short stories have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, The New Haven Review, and the anthologies Lovecraft Unbound and Long Island Noir, among many other venues. With Ellen Datlow, he co-edited the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology Haunted Legends. Nick's fiction and work as an editor and anthologist has been nominated for the Hugo, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and four other Bram Stoker Awards. He lives in Berekley, California.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616552220
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616552220
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,619,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's a lot of Thelemic hoo-ha in Nick Mamatas' new noir novel Love Is The Law, and I am fine with that, since for a good portion of the `00s I ran with as gnarly a pack of wannabe Crowley-ites and ritual occultists as you could ask for. I've had about as much of that as a person can stand, which is to say I get the stuff, and the fastbreeding esoteric patter of narrator "Golden" Dawn Seliger is tone-perfect in this book. You don't have to get Thelema or understand where Dawn is coming from to enjoy it, which, considering how twisty the ouvre of the Great Beast can be is a real achievement.

Now, Trotsky and Communism and worker's revolutions I don't get as much, mostly due to my being Canadian (socialist utopia, I'm told!) and a woeful lack of education in these matters (as well as the disinterest bred into me by capitalist fear-mongering? Mmm possibly...) but I am fine with that, too, because Love Is The Law is a not a book about Thelema or Communism per se; I'll borrow from the alchemy here and say it's a crucible into which Mamatas has tossed those things along with 80s punk aesthetic, family disintegration, drug addiction, murder, conspiracy, a grimoire's worth of black humour and just a smidge of redemption.

On the surface of it, Love Is The Law shouldn't work: the above elements too disparate, the suburban Long Island setting too hermetic, and so on. But it's a crucible, and though the process of reading it is rough in spots -- there are some brutal characters here, Dawn's crack addict father for one, Dawn herself for another -- what comes out the other end of that process is gold.

It all hangs together beautifully, and watching it happen is as close to storytelling magic as I've seen recently.
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A noir murder mystery set in 1989 and recounted by a Thelemite/Trotskyist, punk, teenage protagonist, "Golden" Dawn Seliger. The secrets of the death of her magickal mentor and of the collapse of the communist project are entangled in a way which can only be perceived with the appropriate double-initiation (just as they could only have been caused by an opposing double-initiate). Dawn's magickal and ideological initiations allow (and impel) her to unravel the dual mysteries -- but they are simultaneously the source of an alienation which works against her efforts at revenge on -- never justice for -- the murderer. This conflict is the novel's animating tension.

Love is the Law is a Catcher in the Rye updated for modern (but still pre-millennial) times. Dawn Seliger has long shed Holden Caulfield's pre-pubescent hangups with sex and status and replaced them with her own prepossessions: Will, and Communist revolution. These are far weightier subjects, and she is a much more interesting character because of it. Both the Thelema and the Trotskyism seemed accurate to me (an educated layperson but not an initiate), and the novel also very successfully expresses its setting's zeitgeist, which is still in living memory for most of us -- a welcome contrast to the Salinger. All of these are considerations which would justify replacing Catcher with Love in the canon; on the downside, Mamatas's book is far too frank on the subjects of sex and magick to make it past high school censors.

Mamatas successfully ties the disparate elements I mentioned above -- sex, magick, alienation, murder, and the battle (arcane and otherwise) of communism and capitalism -- into a well-told noir thriller. Highly recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about this project from Mamatas's LJ - he presented it as (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Nancy Drew, but she has an orange mohawk, is into Aleister Crowley, and it's set in 1989." A while later, blogger and OTO gadfly keith418 intimated that this project would be inspired, in part, by his own posts on Thelema, magick, and politics. This, then, presented a unique opportunity to read a contemporary, fictional representation of ceremonial magick that wasn't set in a pure fantasy world like the Camber novels, and that doesn't just suck like so many Aleister Crowley movies. Naturally, I had to snatch it up. This book is captivating, perhaps unsettling, and is bound to make others in the OTO more uncomfortable than it should.

Our protagonist is Dawn, the aforementioned punk rock Nancy Drew, and also the ultimate latchkey kid - her entire family has been consumed, one way or another, by various demons, leaving her basically on her own, save for her Bernstein, her mentor and initiator. The novel opens, however, with Bernstein dead of an apparent suicide that Dawn believes was actually murder. Her magical education and initiation not yet complete, she sets out to discover the identity of Bernstein's assassin. Dawn is a jarring character in many ways. Two come particularly to mind: her casual relationship to sex during the height of AIDS, and her vulnerability when faced with Bernstein's fellow initiates as they act out their designs. IMO she's all the more jarring because, in the final analysis, she's realistic, both as an eighties punk rock girl, and as an exemplar of how a neophyte, with her inner cop kept in check but still unaware of her deeper motives, should act.
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