Thursday, February 6, 2014

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

The Basics:
Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert
Published Jan 31, 2014
Source: Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Why I picked up this book:

I love the image of the woman with the symbol on her eye on the cover. But not so much the crow. I liked the linking of telepathic abilities with technology in the blurb.


In her award-winning novel*, Natasha Mostert blends alchemy, the art of memory, high magic and murder to create a highly original psychological thriller. 

Gabriel Blackstone is a cool, hip, thoroughly twenty-first century Londoner with an unusual talent. A computer hacker by trade, he is also a remote viewer: able to ‘slam a ride’ through the minds of others. But he uses his gift only reluctantly -- until he is asked to find a young man last seen months earlier at Monk House, in the company of two mysterious women. Gabriel becomes increasingly bewitched by the house, and by its owners, the beautiful Monk sisters. But even as he falls in love, he suspects that one of them is a killer.

*Winner of the World Book Day: Book to Talk About Award 2009.

My thoughts:

Season of the Witch is a fascinating tale that looks at what happens when paranormal abilities, memory and arrogance collide. 

I was hooked on the academic feel of the memory material. Some of it I was familiar with and some not. I also liked the way it was tied into mysticism and alchemy. There was a lot to like here in terms of conceptual material.

There's a very small cast of characters in this book. We get to know most of them quite intimately - Gabriel, Isidore, Frankie, her husband and stepson, the Monk sisters.  

I was really drawn in by Gabriel. His arrogance was tempered by a certain degree of self-awareness - he'd acknowledge he was taking a stupid risk, that it was because he was addicted to the rush of it, that it was probably a bad idea but that he was going to do it anyways. 

The Monk sisters were adequately enticing for the story to hinge on them. The seduction of Gabriel also seduces the reader - I was both fascinated and repulsed by these women. 

These characters and connection to some pretty complex concepts sets a  high bar for the rest of the novel, and unfortunately the mystery itself is a bit of a disappointment. There are some clues that Gabriel misses for quite some time (or ignores but doesn't signal that he's ignoring them). I was also hoping for a slightly more complicated explanation - the resolution itself was perfectly satisfying.

Bottom line:

Season of the Witch is an imperfect thriller with seductive characters, a complex mythology and some exciting concepts to explore. Where it let me down as a reader was when I thought characters failed to make basic connections that I felt were obvious. Overall, an enjoyable read!

4 stars
For fans of thrillers, telepathic abilities, memory

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