Posted by: Nyxks | June 17, 2007

Forbidden Magic

Forbidden Magic
by Cheyenne McCray © 2005
St. Martin’s Paperback
ISBN 0-312-93761-x
440 pages
Paperback
$6.99 (U.S.) $9.99 (Canada)
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

Years ago, I complained that there was no good Pagan-friendly fiction out there. Then there came a rash of Young Adult fiction which, while not Pagan-centered, was at least Pagan-Friendly. Now, there are slowly starting to be more adult fiction books on the market which fit that criterion.

I learned about this series of books (Seduced by Magic is due out in October of this year) by an author who writes Young Adult fiction under another name and jumped at the chance to review the books. I didn’t bet the chance to start reading as soon as it got in the door; I had to wait until the next day. It was worth the wait, I assure you. The first chapter sank the hook in and I grudgingly put the book aside for such mundane matters as sleeping, eating, etc. (you know the unimportant parts of everyday life).

The world Ms McCray has crafted (if you will pardon the pun) is one which is only loosely related to the world as we modern Witches and Wiccans know it. Her “bad guys” are warlock (male or female makes no difference). Witches (at least most of them) use white magic. And, oh yeah, the San Francisco Police Department has a Paranormal Special Forces (PSF) detachment working with a D’Anu Witch.

The magic owes more to Hollywood and Buffy than reality, but the relationships ring true. This is not a book for “white lighters” or prudes. The author’s take on the history of the early inhabitants of Ireland (the D’Danann, the Fomorii, and the rest) and their consequent existences is, in its own way, as compelling as that of the Hobbits and other inhabitants of Middle Earth.

The relationships of individuals to their own race, to other races, and to their own perceptions of reality are not glossed over. This is an erotic book, and there is no disguising that fact. It is not pornographic, however. The sexual encounters, language, and images are simply a naturally occurring part of a much larger (and very well-told) story.

Ms McCray’s distinction between white magic and gray is one I have heard debated for years. The reluctance of the D’Anu Witches to actually try to avert a disaster instead of merely trying to minimize its effects also bring back memories of debates I have been part of.

The D’Anu are descendants of the Druids and are few in number (there are 13 covens of 13 Witches [with a few apprentices each] scattered across the U.S.) and rely on secrecy to preserve their existence. The Balorite warlocks are also few in number. They rely on blood magic to increase their numbers.

Ms McCray is not a practicing Witch, so one should expect a few errors in how things are presented. After all, this series was written for the mass market and not for a Pagan audience. Even so, I think that many Pagans and Witches will find this an enjoyable start to a series of paranormal romances aimed at an adult audience. Granted, it has an affinity to “Buffy” and a bit of “The Craft” but it is well-written, entertaining, and a compelling excursion into an alternate universe which is similar enough to our own world to be recognizable.

As I said earlier, this is not a book (or series) for prudes. Silver Ashcroft (the primary female D’Anu Witch we meet in this story) and Hawk (the first D’Danann warrior we meet) are unabashedly sexual beings. If you don’t like sexual content, give this book a pass. If you feel sexuality is out of place when talking about Witchcraft, this book is not for you.

This is a very well-told story. It has plenty of action. The characters are true-to-life. I swear I know a couple of individuals who match up pretty well with Silver’s parents (overbearing father; sensitive, peace-making mother), more than a few Priestess in the mold of Janis Arrowsmith (Silver’s High Priestess), and others in the cast of characters.

I will grant you that winged warriors fighting demons is a bit out of the ordinary (even in San Francisco), but that doesn’t detract from the story in the least (hey, the average high speed chase through the streets of a metropolitan city stretches credulity as well).

I had my suspicions about the true identity of Cassia long before the truth was revealed. Of course, the author wants you thinking about that question early on. My suspicions were only partially correct, but that didn’t surprise me.

As a practicing Witch I have to say that, while I don’t agree with everything in this book, I feel that it will be enjoyed by many in the community who are looking for good, contemporary, adult fiction. And for those Pagans and Witches who enjoy good erotic fiction, it is doubly enjoyable

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