If you already have a love affair with the Tao, if you catch fleeting glances of it in the swaying of a tree or hear echoes of it in the wind in a silent meadow, if you thrill at its crystalline structure in the perfect way everything in the universe fits, flows, laughs, and then dances off out of your monkey mind's grasp. If you have found yourself reading the Tao Te Ching and wanting something else, something more, something different, if you have read the simplistic non-dual writings of an awakened being and gotten it when others are saying, "Um....yeah...ok....so?," If you like resonating with the words of someone who has embodied what you *know*, if you like humming along with someone who is singing the song you have been learning your whole spiritual walk and have them fish silvery, splashing, wiggling, slippery, concepts out of the deepest, darkest, coldest, most silent primal ocean bottom of your spirit (which your fishing line hasn't been quite long enough to get to), you might enjoy this book as I have. I think I have created more bookmarks in this one book than all the rest of my whole library put together. I thoroughly enjoy sitting by the sparkling stream of its music. However, I don't want to misrepresent it. It's not poetic like I am, it primarily gives good, solid, useful wisdom to use for walking the path from the silent forest back out to the chaotic life of the market place. On a practical note, I have found it useful to listen at .5x speed. Slowing it down allows the richness of the message to sink in. The structure of the book is a daily thought for each day of the year. 365 discreet Taoist subjects, who would have believed it possible to lock down any non-dual teacher to be so verbose! A true treasure in my opinion.
May Harmony Find You.
First, this book is not for the "defeat the evil wizard with lightning bolts from my fingertips" fantasy lovers among us. I enjoy those too but this is different. The author of this book has given us something far less common, far more subtle, and very potent. Like many uncommon, subtle, and potent things in life, it takes a more sensitive palate to appreciate it fully. I think that many of the harsh comments originate from disappointed expectations and an inability to savor this kind of story slowly and mindfully. This is like sipping a cup of hot tea in your favorite chair on a cold night rather than howling at the moon with tequila and whiskey on the beach.The author has created a magic system that is complex but also deeply woven into the personality and spirits of the characters. And, the characters are normal, modern day people with whom one can identify. The result is that when they perform magic, you feel it along with them. They use their magic for real things you might imagine one would in a modern, every day world. It is very accessible and intuitive with enough levitation and gee whizzy magic to remind you that it really is magic. As for the "Chik Lit" comments, the *setting* is centered around family, children, and friends but the *story* is getting you introduced to the context, magic system, and the world as a first book in a series would have to. I'm a 50 yr old, hetero male, and well, I'm writing this (using my wife's account, ha!). Lastly, if you happen to be a practicer of magick, it is nice to escape into a world that you would feel at home in. However, I don't *think* the author is neo-pagan. What she has created feels different from that. I think she did something more closer to the human spirit. Hard to explain but calm, quiet, powerful, and....feels right. She was aiming for something specific and I think she got it. I'm looking forward to the other books.
The Narrator (again folks, not so quick):
Ok, I almost didn't make it through the first part of the book because of the way the main character was performed. It grated on my nerves badly before I realized what the narrator was doing. The main character has to evolve from a person who doesn't believe in witchcraft to being a witch herself (that's not a spoiler). When you know this, you realize it is not a weakness of the narrator but one of her strengths. Even though it might be annoying at first, and maybe not executed perfectly, she pulls it off, if you know what she's doing and stick with it. Also, most of the characters are women with a sprinkling of children. The author has her hands full trying to create distinct female voices without going overboard. Looking back on it, I applaud her now. I would have to listen to the beginning again to know if I would still find it annoying but don't let it distract you. It won't sound like a "coffee commercial" (as one commenter aptly put it) for too terribly long.
As a huge fan of this story I am so disappointed that I have removed it from my device. I find the dramatization of the voices hideous in most books but this was an egregious insult to the story. Let's start with V. Michael Smith. Despite the author describing him as having intense emotion, the narrator has him sounding emotionless and brain dead in an effort to convey his alien unfamiliarity with English. The author was striving for innocence and childlike wonder but the narrator destroys all that. The character sounds like he has had a lobotomy. Next let's move to Agnes Douglas, a formidable character with a sharp mind, and the effective leader of the planet. The narrator has her sound like a timid grandmother. Again, his interpretation betrayed the character to the point I was distracted. The clincher that made me remove the book from my device, however, was Jubal Harshaw. This narrator gave him a Texas drawl. Game over. There is no way I can finish this book and I am so incredibly disappointed. I don't know about others but I would much rather the book be *read* and not performed. This is especially true with books I cherish. I have now sworn off buying fiction from audible. I would much rather use my imagination than be at the mercy of some performer's interpretation. This is sad because there are so many books I would love to listen to.
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