15 Dec 2016



BACK COVER BLURB:  Like Susan Isaacs, Rosemary Edghill casts a keenly observant, friendly, yet faintly amused eye on an intriguing American micro-culture. Like The Witches Of Eastwick,  the Bast novels offer a very new view of the practitioners of a very old faith. Edghill allows that there's still magic in the air.

Shakespeare's witches and their blasted heath couldn't be farther from the world of Rosemary Edghill's contemporary Wiccans. Today's witches hold coven meetings in New York City apartments and buy their books and supplies in cheerful neighbourhood shops. They even hold regular jobs - well, sort of regular. Bast, a.k.a. Karen Hightower, is a freelance graphic artist - the flexible hours leave her plenty of time for covenmeets, gossip sessions, and, just, lately, a little detective work.

Even good-hearted, nature-loving Wiccans aren't immune to political infighting, greed, and jealousy. In a community where everybody knows everybody else's business, where cliques turn into covens, and where sexual relationships can have more than ordinary power, passion can quickly turn to murder.

Armed with a quick brain and a clever tongue, Bast pokes into the dark corners of the Wiccan world and finds Truth of more than one kind.

Bell, Book, and Murder contains the complete text of all three Bast novels, Speak Daggers to Her, Book of Moons, and the first softcover edition of The Bowl of Night as excerpted in USA Today.*

Speak Daggers To Her {1. Friday, June 15, 5:20pm}: I could say this was any large Eastern city, but you'd know it was New York.
Book Of Moons {1. Saturday, April 9, 4:45 pm}: It was a Saturday morning in the middle of April and I was at the studio.
The Bowl Of Night {1. Friday, October 6}: I hate Halloween.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Book Of Moons, page 180}: Belle was dressed for the picnic in one of her Public Awareness Outreach ritual robes, the ones she wears when she's being an 'official' Witch in the mundane world. It was tie-dyed in purple and pink and painted all over in gold pentacles, and made Belle lok the way it was supposed to, which was harmless, accessible and nonthreatening. The robe was clinched at the middle with a gold glitter sash and she was carrying a wand stuck through that: a carved rowan twig with a faceted crystal suncatcher in the tip. She looked like the advance man for Glinda the Good.

SOURCE: Borrowed from a friend.

MY THOUGHTS: One of those books I came to with no preconceived ideas whatsoever. Would the book(s) concentrate more on Bast's lifestyle as a modern day Witch and if so would they be stereotypical of what people think a modern Witch is? Would they concentrate more on the mysteries and if so would they be well plotted or would the twists be predictable and easily spotted?

Overall a book I'd rate as 'OK'. However ... 

If asked to rate the Wiccan/Neo-Pagan element of the story alone I'd have to go with three stars ('I liked it'), to me it was the mystery element that let the book(s) down (the who/why-they-dun-it pretty obvious early on) along with, to a greater or lesser extent ...

The writing style. A purely personal preferance but the stream of consciousness approach which the author seemed to favour just isn't altogether to my taste. Then there was the tendency towards repetition to say nothing of the use of slang which I found incredibly frustrating at times.

Then there was the fact I found certain aspects of Book Of Moons too similar to Speak Daggers To Her - dare I say verging on a re-hash? Something that might not have been of such a concern if I'd read the books as separate novels rather than presented as 'three books in one' as was the case in Bell, Book And Murder.

Not to dwell on the negatives though. As I said I enjoyed the Pagan aspect, finding the themes of religious intolerance and even downright bigotry (especially in the Bowl Of Night which was by far my favourite book of the three) fascinating if somewhat shocking reading. 

Then there was Bast (aka Karen). A character I found to be wonderfully quirky, frustratingly naive, resourceful and yet blind to the obvious, all in equal measure. In other words a perfectly rounded character unlike some of the others who, well, lets just say I didn't feel were all they might be. 

* Synopsis & Details ...


Natasha Hill said...

Ooh I really like the sound of these as I'm very interested in wiccan and neo-Pagan mythology and the religion itself today, I've always found it interesting. These sound like good fun too so I'll have to keep an eye out for them and pick them up if I see them. I liked the memorable quote you picked too! - Tasha

Kelly said...

As I began your review, I wondered if these were going to lean more towards the instructional or the entertainment factor. While the stories sound fun in general, I'm afraid some of your negatives are enough that I might take a miss on this collection. Just too many other books I do want to read.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm not sure the writing style would really work for me either, and sorry the mystery part wasn't all that great.

Suko said...

Excellent review as usual, Tracy. This sounds like an intriguing series.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

The storyline, though interesting, isn't quite the type I like. However, I don't mind the stream-of-consciousness style. It can be very engaging.

Brian Joseph said...

The premise of this series sounds very interesting. I

I know a few people who flirted with Wicanism none were ever that serious.

Melliane said...

the synopsis is intriguing but it's too bad that in the end it's not a bit more than that

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Well, at least it is okay even though it didn't wow you. Sometimes that is all I need and it does sound like it is a good distraction right now.

kimbacaffeinate said...

You have me curious about aspects. I am disappointed the overall mystery did hold up.

DMS said...

Thanks for sharing. I am curious about this one for a few different reasons. Your review was very informative. Sorry the overall mystery didn't hold up though. :)

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like something I might really enjoy.