And Rosemary Edghill really redeemed herself with this one.
In The Bowl of Night, Bast attends a pagan festival, HallowFest. Take the city girl out of the city, dump her in the woods, and give her a body.
Bast takes a walk in the woods after having had a tryst with man she’s wanted for a long time and finds the body of the local Biblethumper, Jackson Harm. His body is arranged ritually, with candles around him and anointed with cinnamon. He has a very unusual stab wound– made by a kukri– and Bast has to help discover the murderer before the entire pagan community is blamed.
Excellent tone. Pagan festivals have a particular “flavor” and Edghill nails it. The vast majority of pagans who attend the festivals are urban dwellers, or at least not the kind of people who camp on a regular basis. While everyone is having a good time and glad to be sharing the experience with their fellow practitioners, there is also an underlying frustration and the feeling of not quite belonging. Everyone longs for a shower and a good meal and a little privacy. Bast’s HallowFest is described perfectly.
I still did not feel like I came away from the book knowing Bast the way I want to, but I do feel as if I know her better. We get more of her internal struggles in this book. She’s left Changing and is considering starting her own coven. We meet an ex lover and get a feel for some of her past. We also get a better look inside her head when she frets over her tryst with Julian.
Very well done. I enjoyed this book the most out of all three. There is still one instance where the “willing suspension of disbelief” must be applied, but maybe less so than in the others. The entire story takes place over about three days, and it’s fast paced and utterly believable.
Overall impressions of all the books…
I am impressed by Edghill’s accuracy in describing the pagan community. Her tone is absolutely perfect. Either she’s spent a lot of time in New Age bookstores or she is a member of the community herself. I did not like the second book quite as much because it dealt too much with maybes and implausibilities. There were too many characters introduced. In the third book we return to the close community around Bast and we delve deeper into her head.
Edghill’s Bast books are a good example of how to use the Craft in writing. Edghill does a good job of portraying the Wiccan lifestyle as it is in real life and not in the paranormal. As a friend of mine says, “When I think of pagan inspirational, I think of Edghill.”
All griping aside, these books have joined my all-time favorites list and will be read again and then reread. Or will when my friend returns them. 🙂