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Waking the Moon by [Hand, Elizabeth]
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Waking the Moon Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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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: 4232 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 30, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 30, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009O3ZNB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,743 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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