Thoughtful, engaging, and fresh: a welcome addition to the annals of women’s spirituality.

INITIATED

MEMOIR OF A WITCH

A professional witch recounts the trials she endured in finding her vocation.

That a contemporary witch would quote Starhawk quoting Doreen Valiente in an epigram will come as little surprise to students of the history of women’s spirituality. The former is an ecofeminist who has played a vital role in reimagining goddess worship for the modern age. The latter was instrumental in shaping Wicca, a mid-20th-century reiteration of English witchcraft. That this quotation is followed by a line from Hélène Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa” is a bit more surprising. Taken together, these epigrams offer an illuminating introduction to Yates Garcia and her work. A seventh-generation Californian, the author has made a name—and a remunerative career—for herself as the “Oracle of California.” She co-hosts a podcast called Strange Magic, she has more than 27,000 followers on Instagram, and, in 2017, she talked with Tucker Carlson about her magical efforts to bind Donald Trump from doing harm. It would be wrong, though, to dismiss Yates Garcia as a dilettante cashing in on the current interest in witches. Her mother is a practicing witch and raised the author within her own tradition, a mix of Unitarian Universalist feminist theology, neopaganism, and political activism. While Yates Garcia’s account of her own magical coming-of-age includes mystical experiences and glimpses of rituals she has crafted, it is also a forceful critique of capitalism and patriarchal culture. Her philosophy of witchcraft emphasizes collective action and social justice. But this is not a manifesto. It’s a tale of adventure, a heroine’s journey to find her own power. Along the way, she chronicles her encounters with fairies, monsters of various kinds, and at least one demon lover. Even though “the forces of patriarchal authority have destroyed our stones, our caves, our temples, our cathedrals…the Goddess is being reborn.”

Thoughtful, engaging, and fresh: a welcome addition to the annals of women’s spirituality.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-6305-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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