Season of the Witch
by Natasha Mostert
Review by Gayle Surrette
NAL Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451223357
Date: 04 March 2008 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
[Note: Originally this review ran in our April 2007 issue when the hardcover was released.]
Gabriel Blackstone is an information thief for those who can pay. He and his partner Isadore, a master hacker, break into corporate networks and get the required information for their competitors. Gabriel is content and comfortable and would prefer not to remember when he used to break into people's minds as an RV (remote viewer) for the government and the great failure that still brings pangs of guilt. But his past is back. Frankie, the woman he loved, wants him to find her missing stepson Robbie Wittington. Gabriel doesn't want to get involved, but the innocence in Robbie's eyes pulls him into a mystery that could cost him his mind and his life.
Season of the Witch brings together several topics in an interesting and exciting way. There's remote viewing, corporate security, the Art of Memory and memory palaces, as well as alchemy. There's a good mystery thrown in for good measure. We know what's happened to Robbie from the beginning -- it's trying to figure out the order of the events and who did the deed. There are two beautiful, intelligent, and charming women, and either could be the evildoer or it could be that neither is the culprit.
The story is interspersed with diary entries by M -- that could be Minnaloushe or Morrighan Monk -- our main suspects. As Gabriel is drawn into their company he finds himself unwilling to find the killer since he likes both women. There's a slow, intellectual seduction about the flow of the narrative. As a reader you find yourself being immersed in the prose as they discuss memory, life, love, sexuality, and books. There's a lot here and a lot to think about. There's much discussion between the characters that bears further discussion, but the problem is when you're reading a book on your own there's no one to discuss it with, at least not at the time.
Is there a killer? It seems there is, but can you trust the results of a remote viewing as evidence? If there is a killer, then why did he kill? Why do the diary entries imply that Robbie just left of his own volition? Even after you close the pages you'll wonder about memory and the Art of Memory and its transformative powers. Is technology turning our memory ability to mush? It's something I've thought about a lot since finishing the book.