And so it is for Rosie Rasmussen, a single mother grappling with her mysterious uncle's legacy and her young daughter Samantha's inexplicable seizures. For Pierce's lover Rose Ryder, another path unfolds: she's drawn into a cult that promises to exorcise her demons -- the same cult that Samantha's father has joined.
It is the dark of the year, between Halloween and the winter solstice, and the gateway is open between the worlds of the living and the dead. A great cycle of time is ending, and Pierce and Rosie, Samantha and Rose Ryder must take sides in an age-old war that is approaching the final battle.... Or is it?
Winner of an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, Crowley in this tale conducts us on a journey into the very mystery of existence: what is, what went before, and what could break through at any moment into our lives.
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When the world ends, it ends somewhat differently for each soul then alive to see it; the end doesn't come all at once but passes and repasses over the world like the shivers that pass over a horse's skin. The coming of the end might at first lift and shake just one county, one neighborhood, and not the others around it; might feelably ripple beneath the feet of these churchgoers and not of these taverngoers down the street, shatter only the peace of this street, this family, this child of this family who at that moment lifts her eyes from the Sunday comics and knows for certain that nothing will ever be the same again.
But though the world ends sooner for some than for others, each one who passes through it or through whom it passes will be able to look back and know that he has moved from the old world to the new, where willy-nilly he will die: will know it though all around him his neighbors are still living in the old world, amid its old comforts and fears. And that will be the proof, that in his fellows' faces he can see that they have been left behind, can see in the way they look at him that he has crossed over alive.
All that summer a lethargy had lain over the county that comprises most of the Faraway Hills and their towns farms and waterways. In the heat and torpid silence unaccountable things came to be, small things perhaps and apparently wholly unrelated. A fisherman caught a large-mouth bass in Nickel Lake and saw words written in the fading iridescence of its flank; when he wrote them out for the librarian at Blackbury Jambs she said they were Latin. A Conurbana man building a summer cabin for himself and his family on a mountain road(was it Bug Hill Road? or Hopeful Hill?) couldn't one day find the lot he had bought, or the foundation he had begun the day before, though he was certain he was on the right road he went back twice to the crossroads, twice on to the road's end, bewildered and rageful, it just was not there, until the next day he returned by the same road (he was quite sure) and there it was.
And other things. But these of course are always happening, whether the world is ending or is not. What was less noticed was that, here and there, effects were appearing before their causes. Not often, not consistently, or life would have become unintelligible: just here and there, now and then, and trivial mostly. Hummingbirds ceased suddenly to visit a flowering hedge by a path of the Sunset Nursing Home, saddening one of the women within, who loved to watch them; not long after, a fool handyman following what he thought were his instructions went and cut down the hedge. A mother hanging clothes to dry saw her little daughter, plastic backpack on her back, going down the road out of her eye's corner, just disappearing over the hill's brow; and later that day the daughter decided secretly to run away from home.
If such things could be gathered and counted, how many would there have been? How many should there be, in a normal year? Can a sudden rise in pointless coincidences say a briar springing up just here where last year I lost my briar pipe, or all the mothers and daughters in Fair Prospect happening to say the word "honey" at the same moment be charted? Is there a secret unfolding in unnoticeable things, that might if we could reckon it give us warning of ends, and of beginnings?
"When two people say the same thing at the same time," Rosie Rasmussen told her daughter Sam, "they do this. Look. Hook your little finger around mine. No like this."
Sam, tongue between her teeth, succeeded in hooking her little finger around her mother's.
"Now answer," Rosie said. "'What goes up a chimney?'"
Sam thought. She shrugged.
"Well what does?"
"Smoke," Sam said.
"Right. 'What goes up a chimney?'"
"'May your wish and my wish never be broke.' Hold tight."
She tugged with her finger, and Sam with hers, until the strong link parted.
"There," Rosie said. "That's what you do."
"To get a wish?"
"What did you wish?"
"Well you're not supposed to tell," Rosie said. "It might not come true."
What had her own wish been? There had long been but one wish Rosie could formulate: a wish for something to wish for, something to fill the empty and unfeeling space where (it seemed) her feeling heart had once been. But then last fall she had gained something new to wish for, something to wish for on every evening star, to toot her horn for in every tunnel (hand on the car's roof as her father had taught her). And never to tell.
"I made a wish," Sam said.
Sam slid across the broad smooth leather seat of the car, which was a Tigress, her mother's lawyer Allan Butterman's car. Allan up front alone drove, and Rosie and Sam played in the back, in the richness of the tinted windows and the honeyed music of the rear speakers.
"I'll tell you."
"It might not come true, though."
"Well what is it?"
"Not to take medicine anymore."
That was, in one form anyway, exactly Rosie's wish. In August Sam had first experienced something that her doctor thought might be an epileptic seizure, though for a month she'd had no more. Then, just past midnight on the autumn equinox a night of wild wind Sam had her second seizure, a worse one than the first, taking hold of her small body and all its contents for nearly a minute, and no doubt about it then. And next day in the splendor of the blue morning, amid a pageant of fast-moving white cloud and the trees still softly gesturing with their turning leaves, Rosie drove Sam again to the doctor's, and talked long with him; and then went to the drugstore in Blackbury Jambs. So now Sam took a small dose of phenobarbital elixir, three times a day. Too young at barely five to swallow pills. Rosie had the bitter liquid with her, and a little plastic syringe without a needle to draw it up with and squirt it into Sam's mouth, after a battle, always a battle.
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As always, beautifully written, but doesn't seem to advance the story much. What is the point of Bobby Shaftoe and the many, many repetitions of the war between witches and werewolves?
Of all of the books in the series so far, I think I have enjoyed this one the most. It has much more of a plot than the others: Pierce Moffet, the main character (who I found somewhat more likable than in the earlier volumes) is distressed when his lover joins a charismatic Christian cult that promises her happiness. Pierce isn't sure whether or not he should interfere in her new-found religious beliefs. Meanwhile, Rose Mucho (my favorite character in the series) is dealing with her young daughter Sam's epilepsy. Rose's husband Mike is also a member of the charismatic Christian cult, and believes the cult has the power to heal Sam. The book explores the nature of belief and even of reality. I feel like the first two books have just been giving the readers the background on the characters so that this third one can start to really explore how the characters react under stress. Now that we know the characters very well, we can start to find it interesting when they deal with difficult situations.I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this whole series, but I have felt a little stranded all the way through. Crowley's writing is a joy to read, whether anything interesting is happening in the book or not. I feel like I'm not quite smart enough to fully understand why I have been led through such intimate details in the characters' lives. There are a lot of characters and a lot of sub-plots that don't seem to serve any purpose yet. I'm really hoping this will all come together in the fourth book.
I had been awaiting this new volume in Crowley's 'Aegypt' series with great anticipation for the last six years, since the publication of 'Love & Sleep.' It was well worth the wait. 'Daemonomania' answers some of the mysteries of the first two novels in the series, sets up a number of others, and leaves plenty of tantalizing threads hanging for the conclusion. While maintaining all of the essential elements- metaphysical, philosophical, structural- from the previous two novels, Crowley also touches, surprisingly and gratifingly, on some more concrete issues, such as fundamentalist movements of the late 20th century. This gives the effect that we are moving through the story's 'passage time' toward a more distinctly present-day world. Crowley also does a magnificent, even sometimes heartbreaking, job of implying the passage and its effects on his protagonists. Throughout, the characters are still well-drawn and enjoyable. Several who had been a bit shadowy in the earlier novels receive more attention, and there are some wonderful scenes between the most fully-fleshed denizens of this fantastic world, in particular, Pierce Moffett and Rosie Rasmussen. I'll admit to being a bit biased about John Crowley's work- I've never read anything of his that I didn't find absolutely wonderful- and I know that there are plenty of readers who find his writing too challenging, too strange, or simply not to their tastes. 'Daemonomania' is probably not going to win over anyone who doesn't enjoy a mix of fantasy, history, philosophy- even some kinky sex!- all rendered in prose that's allusive, poetic, and sometimes so densely packed with meaning that many passages bear multiple readings. However, for Crowley fans, this is all sheer heaven!
This third novel in the 'Aegypt' series is a triumph of art and craftsmanship over expectation. The expectation being the fear that you can never go back to a book and find it as wonderful as at first reading, when it was fresh and new -- or that succeeding books in a series can never continue as strong as the initial volume, the unexpected still all ahead. Crowley is now two-thirds of the way through this four-volume project, after a bit of disappointment in 'Love & Sleep.' That second in the series began with a remarkable set piece and then seemed to lose its focus. It is gratifying to find that 'Daemonomania' not only moves the major story frame forward, with reborn excitement and energy, but is very satisfying as a novel within itself -- a bitter-sweet love story resolved, a strange battle joined with modern-day practioners of magics that are just as dark as those of the earlier age that Crowley is so adept at creating. And the richness of idea, the scholarship, the absolutely stunning prose style that Crowley commands are joined in this novel with human interest at a level that he has not quite achieved so uniformly in the past -- from the sad late days of John Dee, to the burning of Bruno, to concern for a seizure-tormented contemporary little girl and her mother the other Rose, and the frequent tears, the wrong roads taken, the Donkey-headedness of Crowley's Quixotic hero. Let it please please Crowley to bring us the concluding volume, reaching now for the Gnostic gold and Dee's prophetic globe in Trismegistrian mountains, without another six years wait!