Hereditary Witch and current High Priestess of the Sherwood Wiccan Coven, as well as an accomplished journalist, artist, and fellow author, Athena Schaffer reviewed Eye of the Moon on her comprehensive entertainment blog, Crowgrrl Entertainment Source.
The excellent “Eye of the Moon” by Ivan Obolensky (Smith-Obolensky Media) is a sophisticated modern Gothic mystery, seeped with magick and intrigue. There are lots of surprises around every turn.
The official synopsis is: “Percy was brought up with his childhood friend Johnny Dodge at Rhinebeck, the Dodge’s sumptuous estate overlooking the Hudson. The two part company after a trading disaster, and his ties to the Dodge family are weakened. Ever loyal, Johnny eventually persuades Percy to join him for a weekend house party at Rhinebeck, with a volatile group of family and guests.
“Once owned by Johnny’s legendary socialite Aunt Alice, Rhinebeck holds more than just childhood memories. Alice mysteriously died while reading The Egyptian Book of the Dead when Johnny and Percy were ten, and they have been kept in the dark about that night ever since. But this weekend the family butler – long a faithful servant to the Dodge family – agrees to reveal her story, and they learn that Alice’s history is far darker than they were led to believe. Family secrets, secret alliances, new love, unexplained visitations: Percy must confront his past if he is to take hold of all that is now shrouded within the gates of Rhinebeck.”
The story is told in the first person through Percy’s perspective. The characterization is brilliant – so vivid that you feel you’re glimpsing their personal lives. The attention to detail is also superb, so much so that it truly engages all of the reader’s senses. (I find myself totally enamored with the sometimes naughty bulldog, Robert the Bruce.)
Percy and Johnny are on a mission to learn more about Johnny’s dear, departed Aunt Alice, to find she was totally engaged in occult practices – mainly Ancient Egyptian, although supplemented by Native American Shamanism and even experimenting with the demonic. The two friends are introduced to her hidden secret library filled with all manner of Arcane lore. (I’m jealous! And I thought I had quite the collection. Mine pales in comparison.)
Some of Alice’s experimentation with Shamanic plants in the Central American jungles – plants that could be hallucinogenic in the right doses, but deadly if too much is consumed – reminded me a bit of Preston & Child’s classic “The Relic”. The depiction of Ancient Egyptian magick was also very interesting to me, since I’m a Wiccan High Priestess, and that is one of the pantheons I work closely with. The crows’ appearance at Rhinebeck symbolizing the goddess Nepthys was spot-on for example, as well as descriptions of the Book of the Dead. I’m glad that Sekhmet was mentioned as well, although it’s a shame that the Beer Festival and the myth that spawned it is the only thing She’s remembered for. Ra’s lion-headed daughter is so much more. But I digress….
The two had arrived early for the 5-day celebration for Johnny’s parents’ anniversary: John Sr. and Anne. They are joined by Baron and Baroness von Hofmanstal and their daughter Brunhilde, Johnny’s grandmother the cantankerous Mrs. Leland (affectionately known as Maw), John Sr’s half-sister Bonnie Leland, and the mysterious Malcolm Ault.
Many dark family secrets are revealed in the course of the weekend: plots, manipulations, even murders. Alice’s first husband, Lord Bromley, features prominently. Plus, romantic sparks fly between Percy and Brunhilde.
Percy and Johnny use one of Alice’s books to conjure a demon – with profound consequences on everyone in the entire household, but mainly life-changing for Percy.
Family butler Stanley and his wife, the cook Dagmar are central to keeping the household –and the family– running. They are the true backbone of Rhinebeck, and are privy to more secrets than anyone else involved. Dagmar also has a magic of her own with delectable culinary concoctions, which are described in mouth-watering detail.
Again, the attention to detail makes this book a true sensory experience. That said, all the smoking going on at Rhinebeck ruins it! Seriously? In this day and age where people should know better? How can anyone even smell Dagmar’s masterpieces with all that tobacco stench permeating the premises?! Plus, in many Shamanic traditions tobacco is used to exorcise demons, which would’ve made a lot of the occult stuff null and void.
Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating story and memorable characters. I highly recommend this fantastic book!