Mike Gleason


Towards the Fates (The Faire Folks #3:) by Meghan Brunner © 2009 Author House ISBN: 978-1-4389-9615-5 471 pages Paperback $25.49 (U.S.)

I have one major problem with this series of books (From the Ashes and Into the Storm preceded this one). It takes too bloody long between installments. Fortunately Meghan is such a gifted storyteller that it takes no effort at all to get back up to speed. This is billed as a trilogy, so this book brings it to an end. The stories will continue however, as a new series must surely be in the offing, as well as a site which will contain short stories (

There is less magick in this installment, as it is more focused on relationships - familial and otherwise. Although, realistically, I should probably have said both family and chosen family, since the rennies are a family of choice.

Meghan lives the life she chronicles in these books, having joined the world of Ren Faires in 1994. She began collecting and sharing stories and has promised to continue telling them for so long as there is "sky left to hear them."

I look forward to hearing more of these stories, even if some of the characters will be falling by the wayside. I've come to know a lot of the folks at the Pendragon Ren Fire and have developed feelings for them, but many of them are not "road rennies" so they obviously won't be cropping up at other sites. Still, I am sure that Meghan will have another crop of people I can grow to care for. I look forward to the new crop of weekenders in Following the Desert Sun (Scheherazade Faire in Arizona). It is very easy to relate to these individuals, since we run into many of them on a day-today basis.

Meghan provides a glossary and character list at the back of the book and that is a handy addition. It does take a while to get locations, people and relationships all in their correct order and these guides make it easy. Although this is a part of a developing story, it is capable of standing alone. Like any good series, this book leaves you wishing you had the next volume in hand so you don't have to wait for the next installment.

Ryna and Phoenix have added to their family through the birth of Keenan, and we get to see the interactions of all the rennies with the mommies and their son. We also get to see more of the interactions with Phoenix's birth family (and what a revelation that is).

I could mention all my usual quibbles about editing, but since there are fewer than I have come to expect, and they are really very minor, so I'll just say they exist, but are so minor they don't jar you out of the flow of the story.

Considering the number of ren faires which exist, I am sure that Meghan could continue telling these stories for decades (and I hope she provides at least another half dozen or more). Now, if she could just get them out a little more frequently, I would be a very happy reader and reviewer.

Out of the Broom Closet by Arin Murphy-Hiscock (Editor) © 2009 Adams Media ISBN: 978-1-59869-891-6 243 pages Paperback $12.95 (U.S.)

Before I begin my review of this long-awaited book (the editor was changed part-way through the creation process) I must admit that I have a personal involvement. My story is one of the “50 True Stories of Witches Who Found and Embraced the Craft,” and a received payment for my contribution. So, if that makes you feel that you can’t trust my review to be unbiased, I suggest you stop reading right now.

Okay, still with me? then on to the review.

There are stories in this collection from some relatively high-profile individuals as well as many from people probably unknown to the larger population. There are joyful stories and sorrowful ones (“My First Tattoo” is one of the latter). These are not all feel good accounts, but they are accounts of “real people” that anyone can relate to.

I have frequently bemoaned the fact that there isn’t enough of this type of book available. There are hundreds of “how to” books; dozens of “this is why” books, but nowhere near enough books which explain the personal origins of those who follow the traditions of the Craft. People can easily tell you how Gardner and Sanders came to the Craft, but who knows how their individual Coven leader found their path? Wouldn’t you like to know how “the Witch next door” got started? It’s hard to relate to those who are the “big names” (even though they all started out as newbies), since a certain mythology has grown up around them.

On a personal level, I found a lot of “I don’t follow a tradition, I just make it up as I go along” stories, which I have difficulty relating to. I was trained in a lineaged tradition, and have a great deal of respect for it. I do recognize, however, that the eclectic community is a growing (perhaps the largest) segment of our community, and whatever my personal feelings, I accept that.

I would like to see more books on this topic, although I would like to see more emphasis on the “traditionalists”. I believe that newcomers would benefit from knowing that they are not alone in their experiences, fears, and uncertainties. And it might help some of us old-timers to remember how WE felt when it was time for us to step out of the broom closet.


Black is for Beginnings (A Graphic Novel) by Laurie Faria Stolarz © 2009 Flux ISBN: 978-0-7387-1438-7 160 pages Paperback $9.95 (U.S.) $11.50 ( Canada)

Here’s a shocking, little-know fact about me: This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read. Oh, I read comic books when I younger, and the occasional “Illustrated Classic” (comics with a redeeming moral purpose – getting kids to read “literature” like Moby Dick, Journey to the Center of the Earth, etc.). But since I began reviewing books I have not tackled a single graphic novel. I’m not sure why I have avoided them, but I have.

I probably would have passed this book over if it weren’t a part of a continuing series I have been reading since the initial volume came out. I’ve always preferred to allow my imagination to supply the details in stories I read – that’s why I read a book BEFORE seeing the movie when possible. Still, I decided to give this book a try.

To be honest, I did not enjoy this book as much as the preceding volumes. The illustrations border on being “anime,” which is not one of my favorite styles, and the plot seemed a little thin. It did provide a good bit of the background which has only been hinted at previously, and that was its purpose. There isn’t really a story to be told, but that’s okay.

I’m not sure if this is going to be the future of this series. I personally hope not. I really prefer the written word over the illustrated style. That, however, is a personal bias and may not reflect the current thinking of the publishing world. I am sure that Ms. Stolarz will continue this series for at least a few more volumes, since the potential is still there for more stories to be told.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman © 2009 Viking ISBN: 978-0670020553 402 pages
Hardcover $26.95 (U.S.) $33.50 (Canada)

Reviewers before me have called this book "Harry Potter for grown-ups," as if
Harry Potter is only for children. This book should be more appealing to the
adult readership for a number of reasons. Firstly, the world of Brakebills
College of Magical Pedagogy is not removed from the world the rest of us live in
(okay, it has been rendered invisible to the non-magical eye [like Hogwarts],
but its students have a working knowledge of the world outside its walls).
Secondly, it treats the entire concept of magic in a very "adult" manner - some
can't, some can, and some can but don't know how or why. There are nods given
to Narnia, Hogwarts, and the land of Oz among others.

This is not quite "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" (no rock and roll here). It
is an adult book without degenerating into a constant bedroom romp. There are
insecurities enough to keep a team of psychologists busy. There are also some
unresolved plot lines, and the ending seemed a bit contrived and left me mildly

The author has obviously done a little research on the magical/occult community,
since he has several references to belief systems outside of the mainstream.
These references, however, are superficial and portray no depth of knowledge or

The Magicians was a well-written book. It grabbed my interest and dragged me
deeper into it with every chapter, but by the time I had reached its conclusion
I felt a little disappointed. Much like being invited to what is anticipated to
be a gastronomic feast, and sitting down to find a burger and fries in front of
you; it just didn't deliver in my opinion.

The characters were, for the most part, either copies of characters from other
books or so shallow that it was hard to develop any feeling for them - good or
bad. The plot twists were, in most instances, not so much twists as curves.
Some of them could be seen coming and only one or two of them actually surprised

As I said earlier, it is well-written, but for those who are looking for a book
which relies on magic, it is bound to be a disappointment. By all means, if you
are looking for a book to while away a weekend read and enjoy it. Just don't
expect too much from it.