Posted on May 7, 2007 by Flames
Written by Natasha Mostert
Billed as an erotic thriller, Season of the Witch is a mentally-seductive tale of tragedy that delves deep into the occult. Before I go any further, I’d like to say that there are a lot of books within the spectrum of supernatural romance that are not soft-core. This is one of those books; personally didn’t think that it was “erotic” in the physical sense; hidden far deep beneath the layers of the plot is a subtle message that will make you stop and think, as if the alchemy in this tale has worked its magic on you.
The main character, a cyber data thief named Gabriel Blackstone, is hired to investigate a murder mystery. Infiltrating the home of the two eccentric Monk sisters, Minnaloushe and Morrigan, you quickly learn that none of the characters in this tale are “as they appear.” I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you; because keep the suspense of ‘what happens next’ is part of this book’s enjoyment, but old alchemical principles mesh with modern society, and an obscure psychic phenomenon comes into play.
The death Gabriel investigates is that of Robert Whittington, a wayward son whose family has ties to other characters. The supporting cast is integral to the plot; every character is necessary, unique, and has their own voice. Frankie adds a nice bit of romantic tension and adds a bit of reality; she is a good ruler to measure Gabriel’s seduction by. Isidore is an extremely delightful character to read; he reminds me of the cyber-punk era when whole books were devoted to personalities and sentient tattoos. Both sisters are “beautiful” in that necessary, romantic style, but where some authors make their characters larger-than-life, the sisters’ beauty works against them as their fantasy world begins to unravel. The sisters are hard to tell apart, but as you get further into the novel you realize that Mostert has done this intentionally—not only is it important to the web of seduction they trap Gabriel in, but it is vital to keep you guessing as more characters wind up dead.
Calling Season of the Witch a “light” read isn’t really appropriate; the story begins eerily and dark, delving further into an abyss of suspicion, confusion, and mind-melting horror as you turn the pages. The horror here is subtle yet menacing, you know that something will happen but you feel you’re safe for now as if your best friend was a vampire. You know what they are. You know they’ve been around for a long time, feeding off of others. You’ve even seen their victims, but you don’t think that you’ll be their next meal until it is too late—because you are such close friends.
Mechanically, the book is written in a style that reminds me very much of Katherine Neville’s The Eight. Cryptic journal entries prelude the chapters as you follow Gabriel’s experiences and definitely become well-integrated further into the story. The only mechanical criticism I have for this sophisticated style is that I would have done away with the Prelude, simply because when the scene is repeated later on it loses its emotional impact.
Season of the Witch is a well thought-out, well-written novel for fans of the occult, cyber-punk, and “romance” in the classical sense of the word.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli