Monday, January 21, 2013


Welcome to day three of the Five Days of Shayne!
Today is the review of the first book in the Portal Series, Mark Of The Witch!

A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she’s forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira’s sacred calling. Yet there’s something even Tomas doesn’t know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he’s come to love-and saving the world.
If you're looking for the romance of Nora Roberts, the mystery of Dan Brown with a healthy dose of magick thrown in, then look no further than Mark of The Witch.
'All my life I'd felt this unnamed, unknowable longing gaping like a great big giant hole in my gut.  A yearning for the Man who was supposed to be by my side, whose absence I felt keenly, even though we never met.  It was real, that feeling.  Which meant he had to be real, too.'
Although Maggie Shayne's book has similar qualities to both authors, her voice is all her own, and the story line is nothing like I have encountered before.
'One. Just one. My precious.'
With truly explicit evil coming from the least likely of places, Mark of The Witch will have you questioning what is truly right in life, as well as in religion.
'She was a practical witch. Didn't feel the need to announce her faith on a sandwich board while walking to work.  Don't laugh.  Have you been to Salem?'
A man whose faith is tested, a woman who has to come to terms with her own power, and a holy man who believes so much in the evil of others that his own beliefs become depraved and twisted, this book will have you holding your breathe, hanging on the edge of your seat and wishing for the secrets to unfold while simultaneously wishing the journey never ends.
"  Do you believe me, Tomas? have I shown you enough proof of the existence of demons, of the power of them, of the danger they pose, to make you a  believer in the ancient prophecy?"
Although the storyline is psychologically deep with seeds of human turmoil  and religious disparity woven magically into the pages, it also has thoroughly entertaining moments of levity to lighten even the darkest of moments, until the final culmination where the total emotional turmoil comes to a climax and no amount of humor can lighten the depths of such desperation.
"'Heaven help me.  My savior is not only a priest but a motor head." He opened a door that looked as if it weighed a ton and held it for me. "Trust me, she runs like a dream." "She looks like a nightmare."'
Tomas is the epitome of the doubting faith.  With his beliefs in question, all he held as truths showing themselves as lies and the burden of milenias weighing like an anvil amongst his shoulders, he still retains a strength of true character, one tested through time and religion, love and loss, hope and despair.
'"Imagine a priest counseling me to give in to temptation." Especially one who looks like he does.  'Cause... damn.'
Dom is the culmination of religion gone corrupt.  Seeking out to destroy those he perceives as evil, he will use any means necessary to eliminate the threat perceived, regardless of whom it comes from, or who he has to slaughter to keep his ideals safe.
'But since when does the Bible teach that the end justifies the means?'
Indira is the tortured soul, seeking her place in the world and a love of her own while quickly giving up on religions that don't prove fruition fast enough, though it never gave up on her.  With a strength of character growing throughout the story, being forced to face that which she doesn't want to believe, and believing that which her heart refuses to accept, she is thrown through lifetimes of memories, only to have her own fear stopping her from becoming that which she must, until she is pushed too far.
'"Well, you were witches, after all.  Communing with demons is part of the tradition." My jaw fell open. I looked at him, then at Tomas, and then at him again. The old bastard was still rambling on as if he hadn't just insulted my entire religion.  Former religion."
Mark of The Witch had me questioning my own beliefs, or lack there-of, seeking truths amongst the deceits in my own life, and hoping to find the peace that knowing who you are and what you truly believe in can only offer.  Mark of The Witch doesn't push religious ideals on you, but rather shows how the people of the religion can either use it for the betterment of mankind, or the detriment not only to themselves but to others as well.
I highly enjoyed reading this book, and wish to praise Maggie on such a thought provoking tale which has me believing that magic can be found in all aspects of life, not just from the pages of a book.
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