A review of The Old Power Returns
By Morven Westfield
I don’t like horror. When I first went to see Alien, and that creature was about to jump out of that guy’s stomach, and the music was building, I was the one who was crouching in her seat with her eyes closed, knees almost drawn up into a fetal position. No way was I going to look at that. I still love science fiction though, and saw most of the movie a number of times before I managed to see the alien jump out of that stomach. I don’t like gore, and most horror is to gory for my tastes.
So, last week at Southern NH Pagan Pride, I met this woman, and on her table was a book that she had written called “The Old Power Returns”. I looked at it a bit and realized it was vampire fiction. So, another one of my prejudices came to the fore … here’s another of those books that’s meant for teens who might like to think that they are vampires.
We spoke a bit though, and I started recognizing that this woman has something going on in her brain … she was smart, and seemed a bit knowledgeable about Paganism, so I picked up the book and took it home to read.
Early on in the book I started learning that this wasn’t merely another empty vampire tale. It has witches in it. I thought that it might just get interesting.
At first, I started getting a bit annoyed when the witches in the tale would talk about very basic things, such as the idea of not haggling about the cost of a ritual item. I thought “no experienced witches would have such a conversation”. It took a while for me, and my sometimes dense brain, to realize that this wasn’t a book necessarily written to an experienced practitioner, but to the general public who might not know what, exactly, Wicca is, or what witches are.
It seems then, that as well as a suspenseful thriller, “The Old Power Returns” is also a palimpsest. It is a teaching tale, written in and around a thriller. What’s nice about this particular teaching tale is that it is one which is accurate; from the reasons why certain things remain secret, to the nature of protective spells, it’s obvious that Morven has some experience in the things she is writing about.
“The Old Power Returns” is a well-crafted book, free from the errors of spelling that slip by in other publications. The care taken in the writing, editing and proofreading is evident and appreciated. The story is engaging, and the use of literary tools is appropriate. Foreshadowed danger keeps the reader on the edge of her seat, and makes the book difficult to put down. The use of violence is appropriate to the nature of the story, and the peace and justice are the goals strived for.
As I said, I’m not typically a reader of fiction, and had I seen this book on the shelf at my local bookseller, I might have passed it by. As it happens, I’m glad that I picked this one up, and look forward to other offerings from the hand of Morven Westfield.
© 2008, Deirdre A. Hebert