01/11/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Checkmark Books/Infobase Publishing. 119 page illustrated indexed medium-size softcover. Price: $10.95 (US), £ 5.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-7910-9896-7.
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There are times in the business where it is kind of useful to know who the target audience is for a book, especially when there's no indication on the cover. Looking at author Rosemary Ellen Guiley's short sentence structure immediately made me wonder about the age range this book is being targeted at. This is an important issue, especially for a subject series looking at different aspects of the paranormal. Not that I object to young adults having an interest in the subject. Indeed, I was reading books from the library adult section from my early teens having exhausted the junior section. Considering there are other written sources using longer sentences within the book, I'm wavering over age group and Guley's writing style. Please bear that in mind with the rest of this review. The book might be targeted at everyone.
The subject of this book is witches and wiccans, showing through history how one grew from the other and now back full circle to what it was supposed to be in the first place. Nothing to do with devil-worship and a sensitivity and culture of our ecology. A lot of early witchcraft was there in the western world as suppliers of herbal medicines. The people involved must have seen to have something special about their practices and were ultimately victimised for being different. The result of this purged by torture and execution many believed to be witches, both male and female, as them being the devil's followers. If anything, it's a demonstration of intolerance taken to the extreme that was used to remove people you didn't like or misfits as much as witches. Those caught didn't have a chance. There is a logic that if witches were that powerful then they would never have been caught in the first place. They were not. Often, they had things in common with people like ourselves. Loners who stood away from the crowd.
Last century, much of witchcraft was redefined and often called wicca and for the good practices it did rather than that tarnished in previous centuries. Although you're not going to find out how to cast spells or even how to join a coven here, you are going to come away from this book with a greater understanding what witchcraft is about and a working knowledge on the subject. Quite an achievement for a book of so few pages.
As I said, witchcraft is more an understanding and use of nature than subverting it. I would be inclined to believe this book is readable for all ages with a little more emphasis on the teen-age population if they needed a quick grasp of the subject. It gives a fair representation without acting as a means of enrolment and a handy reference book.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA