Dear Readers,

We would like to welcome you to our new home here at https://esotericbookreview.wordpress.com – you may have found us by following a link to our old website, or maybe your browser redirected you here.

The Esoteric Book Review was created by the occult author Sorita d’Este as part of her Avalonia website which was founded in 1997.  It moved to its own seperate website about two years ago during some reorganisations of Avalonia by Sorita.  At that time she appointed me as the Reviews Editor and with her help I have been able to learn more about internet technology and gain the confidence to be able to now take on the massive task of administering this website by myself.

The Esoteric Book Review is a peer review.  The reviews you will find here have been written by people who have many years worth of experience as practitioners of magick, devotees of the old gods, readers of tarot and weavers of the webs of sorcery.   They include amongst them esoteric scholars and academics, authors, writers, teachers of wicca and members of large and prestigious magical organisations and traditions.   They share their genuine opinion on the books they review, good or bad.  They are volunteers who share a passion for the occult, for magick, paganism and spirituality, for witchcraft, voodoo, root magic and the old gods.

So if you are with us now, in the words of Aleister Crowley:

“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.”

156, 93, BB, LVX and all the fraternal and sororal blessings

Nina Lazarus

 

PS. Please note, the reviews previous to the this message have all been imported from the original reviews website.  They are all posted as “Avalonia LuxNox” though they were written by a variety of authors over the last few years.  In most instances the name of the author is contained within the message body itself.

The Pop Culture Grimoire: An Anthology of Pop Culture Magic

Taylor Ellwood (ed)

Megalithica Books Publication

PB, £10.99, 160pp

 Reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

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I admit to being something of a purist, and pop culture magic is not a topic I am drawn to, as the term pop culture is one I associate with shallow and trivial superficialities.  From what I have seen, most of the time it just seems to be reinventing the wheel or getting excited about doing something many of us have known about for a long time. Rather than reinventing the wheel time could be better spent on looking at the sources and seeing where techniques and ideas came from.  Working through the eighteen essays contained in this work largely confirmed my views.  However it did also add another level of understanding, which is that much of the material within was just Chaos Magick by another name.  A ritual based on Narnia or worship of Marilyn Monroe or drawing down Elvis is not new, as such ideas were being bandied around in the 1980s on the Chaos scene.

I did consider going through the essays one by one, but a couple of them illustrate my points.  Break on Through to the Other Side is an entertaining short piece on the author’s decision to create what she terms a vampire godform based on the roleplaying game she was involved in that went bad, though to you and me this would be called creation of a thoughtform.  Popular Music as Ritual is essentially the author’s realisation that compilation CDs or tapes can be used to celebrate magickal occasions and states, something that many of us have been doing for decades anyway without calling it pop culture magic. For me the only really enjoyable piece in the collection was Nick Farrell’s The Alchemy of Bollocks: Turning Pop Culture into Something Useful, which was amusing and informative.  If ideas like using Pokemon characters or the addictive computer game World of Warcraft to develop your magick appeal to you, then you should buy and read this book.

 

Hinterland by David Barnett

Review by Stephen Blake for the Esoteric Book Review

Hinterland is published by Immanion Press

Unlike most of the books we review on this site, Hinterland is a novel. It is published by Storm Constantine’s ‘Immanion Press’, who produce fantasy, sci-fi and horror fiction but also non-fiction esoteric titles (such as Brandy Williams’ “Ecstatic Ritual” in my previous review).

Hinterland was the first book by Dave Barnett, who has gone on earn great acclaim for Angelglass. This is a reprint, and in the Afterword he says that he was tempted take the opportunity to re-write the whole thing but decided that the rough edges and raw energy of his earlier days were part of what made it special. I’d agree – there are places where this reads like a first novel, but it has a unique energy and power as well.

The title of the book describes the way that Barnett treats city suburbs as a liminal place, where reality is less enforced. He then takes us straight into the grimy streets and no-hope life of protagonist Dave. The main character is a 26 year-old journalist who is sleeping with his co-worker’s girlfriend, and trying to keep the horror of his life at bay with drink and club nights. His adventures quickly take him into much less mundane territory and the vibe of the story becomes dark and eerie.

This atmosphere alone nearly qualifies this as an occult novel, hanging around the story like a dark cloud, rising up and pulling away again periodically. The reader’s assumptions are continually played with: Dave is walking across a frozen lake when the narrative suddenly switches to years earlier when he paddled across it with childhood friends. A pair of Nymphs seem predictably supernatural but turn out to have a bleaker, more mundane explanation. (Or maybe not.)

In fact, Dave’s world is very bleak indeed, and he’s not dealing with it very well. Periods of lost time and forgetfulness bubble up, but sometimes it seems he’s the only one affected by them. Is he going mad, or is it just the copious drugs and drink?

As the story progresses the weirdness becomes less subtle and more threatening, losing its furtiveness and approaching outright bedlam. A host of legendary characters are loosed into the world – The Green Man, a huge black cat on the moors, a mysterious painting which always survives house fires intact… the sense of the occult intruding into everyday life is huge fun for esoteric readers, but there is a bigger question about how Dave will survive the changes. What do these half-seen figures have in mind for him?

I didn’t expect this book to be a professional effort, but it has an urgent atmosphere and gripping pace which stays with you. There are some superb sequences of disconnection from time and reality (check out the time slips during the birthday party) and a real emotional punch. By the end you realise that it’s something very special – a ‘slipping between the cracks’ tale like Neverwhere, but with a much darker, seedier outlook. Definitely an author to watch.