Dec 31, 2015

Review: Veil Between Worlds by Sally Dubats

I've read a few witchy books this year, although I haven't written a proper review for most of them. I had lots of thoughts about Sally Dubats' YA novel, "Veil Between Worlds," however, so I decided to write a review as part of the 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

Warning: Spoilers ahead, and discussion of potentially triggery material near the end of the review.

Veil Between Worlds by Sally Dubats (Book 1 in The Grimoire Chronicles)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

“We’ll have to make her death look like an accident.”

Cassie’s neighbors have secrets -- and she is one of them.

17-year-old Cassie is a Witch who caught the eye of her mysterious new neighbors. They’re elegant and deadly, and renovating an abandoned resort to open a school for gifted teens. Cassie is the only one who knows the whereabouts of their missing and gorgeous son, Trenton. The problem is that he's not in this dimension, and the mysterious neighbors have given Cassie an ultimatum: Find Trenton or die.

Witchcraft is second nature to Cassie, but protection charms and Drink and Know spells create a world Cassie never dreamed of, a world where Love and Disaster are intimate partners, and Cassie finds out who - and what - Trenton really is.

First in “The Grimoire Chronicles” series, “Veil Between Worlds” is a paranormal fantasy novel that you’ll never forget! If you love paranormal romance, urban fantasy, Witches and Wicca, ghost stories, paranormal mystery, paranormal horror, and action, “The Grimoire Chronicles” is definitely for you!

Let's start with my favorite part of this book, which is the discussion of the Craft. I thought it was really beautiful and full of lots of good Truth with a capital T. There were also some very interesting insights into how astral travel works and how to protect yourself while doing so, as well what divine possession feels like.

One of my favorite scenes was where Cassie helps Violet cross over, with the help of the God & Goddess. I admit I got quite teary eyed at how beautifully that scene was described. I don't think I'll ever look at a candle lit on Samhain the same way again.
I liked that she used an often-overlooked mythological creature -- the Sirens -- instead of overused creatures like vampires, werewolves, etc. that so many paranormal YA books do.  It gave the story a fresh feeling.  I finished the book wanting to know more about this world she was starting to build with this book, particularly about the Sirens and their place in the world.

I got angry that the Sirens kept erasing people's memories, especially at the end. The Sirens are seriously paranoid to an unhealthy degree, but it almost seemed like Dubats felt they were in the right to erase people's memories. (Obviously, I think it's unethical for them to do so). Holly and Laine had these powerful, transformative experiences on the astral, and it was all erased because Sirens were involved. These characters deserve to remember being spoken to by the Goddess on the astral and finding their own power. For their sakes I am pissed off that they've been robbed of that experience!

My one major problem with this book is the relationship between Cassie & Trenton. It is deeply unhealthy. When they first meet, he energetically assaults her. Then she starts stalking him and his family on the physical and astral plane because she wants to find him and understand what happened when he assaulted her and what he really is. And then suddenly they're a "match" and are completely in love with one another??! No way. Oh, and then at the end he erased all those memories so that she wouldn't even remember the assault, stalking, his crazy ex-girlfriend/not-match, etc., and they could start from scratch - why yes, let's start our relationship based on a big fat lie! That is some really messed up and unhealthy shit right there.

I'm still not sure if I want to keep reading the rest of the series. The lovely stuff about witchcraft and the gods kind of makes me want to, despite the problematic Trenton/Cassie relationship.

This review and others can also be found on my Goodreads profile: View all my reviews

Dec 3, 2015

Remembering my Ancestors by Sharing Their Stories

When I first accepted Gwynn ap Nudd as my patron deity and took his mark, he had one condition for me: "You must work with the dead."

Gwyn ap Nudd, Welsh god of the Underworld and Lord of the Dead
Illustration by Yuri Leitch
This made sense to me, as he is the Welsh god of the Underworld and leader of the Wild Hunt at Samhain.  He has also made it clear to me that he is titled Lord of the Dead, though I don't believe that title is found in what little written mythology there is.  He didn't provide me with any explanation or further details on what working with the dead meant for me, though.

That was a number of years ago.  He had largely remained silent on the matter - I assumed I wasn't ready to take on the responsibilities of the task, particularly in the time after I was forced from my coven and needed a significant amount of fallow time with my spirituality.

This autumn, I felt a growing pull to start collecting the stories and photos of my family, namely those who had passed.  As I approached Samhain I came to understand that this is the beginning of my obligation to Gwynn - my work with the dead starts with my family, telling their stories to keep their memory alive.

Because what is remembered, lives.

I started with a request in a private Facebook group for my father's side of the family, and have begun saving digital copies of the stories and photos I've collected so far.  While I was at my parents' for Thanksgiving, I also scanned a number of documents they had, including a family tree that goes back to my 3-times great-grandparents!

This is probably going to be a multi-year project, and I'm kind of excited about that.  I'm looking forward to seeing what other interesting stories and revelations about my family I discover along the way.  Maybe I'll even take a trip to research my family's lineage!  (Or maybe I've been watching too much Who Do You Think You Are? and am overconfident in my ability to afford such a trip!)

I'm not sure what I'll do with the findings - perhaps an ebook to give to my family, or maybe even a fancy website?  So many possibilities!

Have you done any research into your family's lineage or stories?  What revelatory discoveries did you make?

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