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Format: Paperback
At first this novel seems forced and poorly constructed, but by the end of the story Anne Harris wraps up her disconnected storylines in a very intriguing and creative fashion. The first part of the book operates as a novella about a slave girl in ancient Sumer, Shula, who has an epiphany about the obscure ancient goddess Belili. After this, the main bulk of the book is about a modern young woman named Wendy, who as a forlorn teen misfit has her own vision of Belili and decides to study the ancient mythology of Sumer. At first these two plotlines have little to do with each other and you might even think you’re reading a collection of novellas rather than a full novel. But in both cases Anne Harris has definitely made herself knowledgeable on ancient Sumerian mythology, and she makes great use of such folklore in a modern fictional context. Eventually we find that Shula and Wendy are connected via advanced virtual reality experiments, and this is quite a creative concept on the part of Harris, although the sci-fi and technological aspects of this plot device are a bit under-explained. Harris’s ruminations on love and belief can get a bit sappy and melodramatic, and the book’s undercurrent of goddess-centric feminism gets pretty heavy-handed. But this is still a mostly successful and intriguing use of Sumerian mythology in speculative fiction, and the underlying themes concerning modern life are effective. [~doomsdayer520~]

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Format: Hardcover

I stayed up all night to finish this book.

This book starts off in ancient Samaria, where a slave named Shula who meets the goddess Inanna and becomes one of her priestess. But then she meets the goddess Belili and the snake of knowledge and finds her approach to the world much less demanding and selfish. But just when the story gets going we are sent to the present day, to meet a girl named Wendy.

Wendy has rough experiences in middle school, the boys teasing the girls making fun of her, and then she discovering the goddess and learns not to care what people think of her. She also meets Ray, a young artist who loves Wendy’s view of the world and their relationship takes off. But Ray had an abusive father and soon his after school job gets a little rough, causing problems for him and Wendy.

But was does this have to do with ancient Sumer and rival goddess worship cults? The two parts of the book are apparently unconnected, except by Wendy’s link to the goddess Belili, who she studies in college and has long felt connected to. Maybe Wendy is a reincarnation of Shula, the slave we meet in the beginning of the book. Maybe it’s more than that. Maybe, it’s something else entirely.

I won’t tell you. The ending of this book blew me away.

Just read it, you’ll enjoy it if you’re a Wiccan, a historical fiction freak, or a person who loves suspense.

And the title will make sense once you finish the book. I promise.

Five stars easily.

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Format: Hardcover

…a book held me this enthralled. No, actually, I can. It was Kushiel’s Avatar, and it was more than a year ago. This is possibly the best work of fiction I’ve read this year so far; certainly it’s the most unputdownable.

The novel contains two parallel storylines. One is about Shula, a slave in ancient Sumer, who has visions that lead her to the service of the goddess Inanna. However, even as Inanna makes greater and greater demands upon her, Shula loses her heart to a different goddess, Belili, Inanna’s wilder rival. And in the modern day, a nerdy girl named Wendy grows up, has a vision of Belili herself, and begins to dream of a life better than her social-outcast existence. She searches for goddess religion and matriarchy and eventually becomes a scholar of ancient literature, but meanwhile the tension is building in her romantic relationship with her boyfriend Ray. A weird science-fiction twist brings the two storylines together, and I won’t spoil anything else.

But this is a great story, filled with haunting myths and equally haunting depictions of life as a teenage misfit, beautiful scenes of love and friendship, thoughtful discourse about ancient matriarchies and whether they existed, lovely prose, and all sorts of other good stuff. My only issue with it is that the science fiction device seemed a bit far-fetched to me. This is a minor quibble–it’s science fiction after all! Read it if you’re into mythic fiction or time-travel storylines.

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Format: Paperback

This is a unique book that weaves together the legends of ancient Sumer with the story of a modern young woman whose days as a school misfit aren’t entirely behind her. Initially it feels like the reader is experiencing two distinct books; the first section follows the story of Shula, a slave in Sumer who worships the goddess Inanna although Shula is also experiencing a lot of strange miracles and is aware that there were goddesses before Inanna who appear to be taking an interest in Shula. Shula’s life is hard, even when she follows Inanna’s will, and lots of decisions that she makes seem to cause her life to go downhill. We leave Shula’s story as she is being punished for breaking her vows as a temple virgin.

The second part of the story switches to the life of Wendy Chrenko as she lives through her schooldays as a misfit, teased by other schoolchildren because of her rather wacky nature. She eventually finds something of a soulmate in Ray Mackie but as their lives move on and Wendy spends more time researching the role of women in ancient Sumer whilst Ray gets involved in some rather dodgy employment they no longer see eye to eye. Wendy’s life is a quest to discover a true matriarchal society in history but in this search she is also a misfit. Wendy eventually becomes involved in a virtual reality experiment to see if she can discover the truth of her belief that women and men initially lived together as equals.

Both parts of this book are interesting and make you want to keep reading. The third part of the book brings the threads together as we discover the ways in which Shula and Wendy are linked and as both women discover the truth of their searches. Ray also has a role in learning what is important to him and acknowledging the relationship between him and Wendy.Read more ›