Review: So Mote It Be by Isobel Bird

Note: This is an ancient review, originally published 10 March 2001, that I'm just now converting to WordPress.

Last night I took advantage of the quiet due to having two kids gone on a camping trip to read So Mote It Be, the first book of Isobel Bird's Circle of Three series.

I'd heard about this series on a couple of pagan mailing lists, but nobody seemed to have actually read them yet. I was, however, somewhat intrigued by the thought of a Wiccan (supposedly one with 20 years of experience and a good reputation) writing books aimed at the teen market that loves Charmed and Buffy and so on. The books were supposed to be better done and more responsibly written than the similar series Silver Ravenwolf has started, and I knew my daughter would be wanting to read them as soon as she saw or heard about them, so I figured I'd go ahead and screen book one.

(Yes, we do generally screen music, books and movies before our kids are exposed to them—we don't censor much except graphic violence, but we do choose to discuss our concerns about various media very openly with our kids.)

I don't really like teen genre books—it's been a few too many years since I obsessed over looking right at school and whether a particular person would ask me to a dance for me to relate. And I didn't even like the few that were out when I was a teen—I was reading C.S. Lewis, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and Marion Zimmer Bradley. But I was pleasantly surprised that the book wasn't that painful, and for the genre it was really very well done.

As a pagan, I was impressed with how the rule of three and the rede were worked into the novel and made very real. The main character is Kate, and her conflict between being drawn to Wicca (which is presented as a religion) and being a fairly devout Christian is handled delicately and certainly not resolved in the first book, which is, I think, realistic. Kate's fears of being ostracized if her old friends (the popular crowd in their high school) found out she was practicing witchcraft are very real. The practicing Wiccans are portrayed very positively, and tarot reading is presented as a method of exploring choices and gaining insight rather than some silly card trick.

In short, I have absolutely no reservations about letting my 10-year-old daughter read this book and the others in the series (although I plan to read them, as well, first.) I do think the appeal of the books will be among 9-12 year olds, but realize that my perceptions there may be skewed. (Katie just bought her own copy of The Mists of Avalon because she loves that book so much, so she isn't really reading on what the public school system would consider her "grade level.")

I did have two little gripes about the books—the author must not know many 9-year-olds, because she portrayed one briefly with behavior and dialogue more appropriate to a 5-year-old. Our kids are 9, 10 and 12 and we have another 9-year-old who spends a lot of time here. We host kids' gaming groups here every weekend or at least every other weekend, when 10 to 15 kids from who are 8 to 13 years old are here for much of the weekend. I know kids in that age range very well, and don't know even one who would even think of speaking the dialogue given to Meg. And the idea that the main characters found a book of spells in their high school library pushed tripped my unbelievability trigger—do you really think any public school in the US would have such a thing on their shelves in this day and age, when even Madeleine L'Engle is often considered too witchy?

Anyway, we'll probably be buying the other books in this series as they come out, and I can only recommend them to other parents and their young readers. Do read them and discuss them with your kids. If your kids like these, I'd suggest that they check out Diane Duane's Wizardry series, too (So You Want to Be a Wizard is book one) and maybe the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones. Robin Wood's marvelous examination of ethics, When, Why… If, also provides excellent material for family discussions (and if the characters of So Mote It Be had read Robin's book first, there probably wouldn't have been a plot).

Ooo! Bad Author! No Author Biscuit!


I just finished reading the all three books that are currently available in the Morris & Chastain Supernatural Investigations series by Justin Gustainis. I have no complaints about Black Magic Woman or Evil Ways, which hang together pretty closely.

Sympathy for the Devil, though, ended with a cliffhanger! How dare he! The reader is left completely unsure of the fate of one of the main two characters, as well as several others who were pivotal to the plot. Honestly, anybody who is reading volume three of a series has proven enough commitment that there's simply no justification for such a cheap tactic. Bah!

Gratitude

Tonight I’m grate­ful that my Dad­dy does NOT have the blood clot we thought he might have ear­li­er today. He did have to go to the emer­gency room, but the swelling in his leg is due to some­thing else.

Cooler Now

Oh, thank good­ness. Dad­dy fixed the A/​C! I’m glad to know it wasn’t just me not tol­er­at­ing the heat well despite A/​C (I’m get­ting to that age now). Thank you, Dad­dy! Look­ing for­ward to a good night’s sleep tonight!

Heat

It is just too bloody hot. I couldn’t sleep last night and it’s too dan­ged hot to sleep again tonight. I do not enjoy sum­mer weather.

Sky Diving??

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:
How do you feel about sky diving?
I feel that it is a pursuit best left to adrenaline junkies, and people who have to do it for their careers. I'm glad parachutes exist, but I sincerely hope that I won't ever find myself in need of one! If I board a plane, I intend to stay on it until it makes a nice, safe landing.

Bunjee Jumping?

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:
Would you ever go bungee jumping?

No way! For one thing, I am definitely NOT an adrenaline junky. For another, I cannot imagine that the JERK when one reaches the end of the cord and gets pulled back up is a very good feeling. I already have chronic pain problems, so I don't think it wise to aggravate them by seeking out opportunity for injury in a gratuitous fashion!

Still working on the site

But as you can see by the grow­ing list of pages on the right-hand side of the site, I’m mak­ing progress. The read­ing, stitch­ing, geek­ery and health parts of the site have been migrat­ed to Word­Press, although not always rewrit­ten and updat­ed. My pro­fes­sion­al site has been migrat­ed com­plete­ly now, too. There are still some pages to be migrat­ed here, but they’re com­ing, then I’ll work on get­ting the pat­terns site migrat­ed and maybe even add more pat­terns. Fibrant Liv­ing needs some love, as does Cyber​stalked​.org, but that last one is my low­est priority.

I don’t sup­pose any­one would like to test stitch one of the pat­terns at Heart­song Hand­i­crafts? It would be nice to have stitched mod­el pho­tographs for that site. I haven’t fin­ished the biggest pat­tern that I was test-stitch­ing for the site yet.

There are new con­tact forms up on this site and at Cyn​thi​aArmis​tead​.com to offer an alter­na­tive way to reach me for those who might be shy about commenting.

Happy (Belated) Solstice!

Today I cel­e­brat­ed the Sol­stice with the ADF Grove of the Red Earth, the first of their rit­u­als I’ve been able to attend. It was a love­ly thing, with a deli­cious feast after­wards. Thanks for the invi­ta­tion and hos­pi­tal­i­ty, folks!

Scary Movies?

Anoth­er NaBloPo­Mo prompt: Do you like scary movies that make you jump?

I’m not old enough to watch scary movies! I find them far too fright­en­ing, indeed, night­mare-induc­ing. Sam required that I watch The Crow with him when we’d just start­ed dat­ing him (I can’t remem­ber why any more) and, like a fool, I didn’t refuse absolute­ly. Today I would, even in the ear­ly days of a rela­tion­ship. I too eas­i­ly sus­pend my disbelief. 

But then, i can’t watch many very vio­lent things, either. They’re too upset­ting for me. The more real­is­tic vio­lence is, the more fright­en­ing it is. I can’t under­stand why any­one else would want to watch such things, either, but I accept that they don’t touch some peo­ple as deeply as they do me. I can watch foren­sics shows, but the vio­lence is usu­al­ly over by the time those shows start. The main char­ac­ters recon­struct the crimes, but the view­er isn’t usu­al­ly sub­ject­ed to the actu­al crime occur­ring, hap­pi­ly. That lets me look at them as puzzles.