WAKING THE MOON by Elizabeth Hand
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Men have been in charge too long, and at this moment the moon goddess Othiym Lunarsa slouches toward Washington, D.C., to be born -- in this fourth novel and first hardcover from Hand. The main setting here is called the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine -- the secret American center of the Benandanti, a group whose origins are lost in prehistory but whose magic now rules the world. But as Yeats's gyres foretell, the goddess cult will rise, so the Benandanti have already taken arms against it. Katherine Sweeney Cassidy has no idea why she's been elected as a student for Divine, but her professor of Magic, Witchcraft & Religion, Balthazar Warnick, knows very well: Sweeney must ultimately oppose fellow student Angelica di Rienzi, the superhumanly ravishing incarnation of the Moon Goddess -- though Angelica doesn't know she's the goddess until she receives the Lunula, an ultramagical necklace lost in the earth for thousands of years. Also on hand: her consort, the most beautiful man on earth, 18-year-old Oliver Wilde Crawford, a latent schizo whose fund of arcane knowledge would fit nicely into Finnegans Wake. Star-crossed Oliver, however, is chosen as Champion of the Benandanti to oppose Angelica as well. Meanwhile, Hand shows a marvelous talent for sketching in college life, especially Angelica's lesbian second banana, Annie Harmon. Things go wrong terribly early when British archaeologist Magda Kurtz, who uncovered the Lunula at her dig in northern Estavia, drapes the charm around Angelica's neck, then is hurled by Balthazar into a lurid darkness filled with giant insects. As if updating Nancy Drew, this hyperweird murder is observed by Sweeney and Angelica. But, strangely, Angelica takes it in stride, as does Oliver later. Soon a moonswept Angelica assumes her goddesshood, sacrifices a bull, has herself impregnated by Oliver, then disappears -- later to bear Dylan, the son she must sacrifice to bring about the Second Coming.... Page by page, great entertainment -- with special effects from Industrial Light and Magic.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 390pp
Publisher: HarperPrism