Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Review: "In Plain Sight"

At long last I have returned. Honestly, the breaks I take...

But I will delve into that later. Today my goal is to share my thoughts and opinions on the now-available e-book "In Plain Sight" by Michele Briere. It is her first book, and quite unique in a variety of ways.

For starters, it's a pagan fiction book written for pagans by a pagan. That is, I think, pretty darn rare these days. Many authors may do research on one form of practice, use that for their story, and that's groovy. However, I think the usual approach, when used, is strictly on a New Age/Wicca path. That's fine too. The nice thing that Briere does is that she dives straight in, referencing techniques, terms, and accoutrements that practicing pagans are familiar with. She also dives off the path and involves things that are not strictly part of the Wicca movement. Talk about off the beaten path!

Here is the synopsis:

The little gray aliens have been taking people from Earth for thousands of years. When a pilot kidnapped from Earth crash lands one of their ships in the Thayan Empire, an empire populated by millions of humans with Earth ancestry living side by side with the tall, furry, felinoid Thayans, the Thayan government decides it's time to find Earth and do something about the reaping. The Thayans didn't count on help from magic-wielding Earthers.

Read the ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER for FREE at the author's homepage,!

Written by a Pagan for the Pagan audience, and anyone else who likes to have fun with their science fiction, this story is filled with humor, love, laughter, adventure, drama, space ships and magic.

Yes, you read that correctly. Intrigued yet?

So the story begins with Ninah, a regular lady who has received a lovely inheritance and is trying to figure out what to do with it. Instead of heading to New York and blowing it all, she actually heads off to Seattle--after much resistance. Just north of the city, actually. It's there that she finds her purpose: to build a temple that all pagans can practice at.

While she's there, she meet some extraordinary new people: Rick Myles, the local sheriff, who has one of the most balanced temperaments ever; his twin sons Ivan (that's EE-van) and Pavel; Dr. Severance Allen, doctor and practitioner; his partner Shara, a dojo instructor. There's a handful of others--some local, some definitely not--who form a tight band.

Part of the plot involves feeling out ley lines and shifting energy in the town, which is named New Babylon. As Ninah continues to develop in her magical talents, she also develops some strong new relationship ties as well.

Here's the kicker: you're reading, and then all of a sudden an entirely new angle kicks in. We go into outer space, aboard a ship called the Sentinel. From here, we realize there is a group of aliens called the Thayans who are working their collective butts off to try to protect planets from the little gray aliens who go around abducting people. A kidnapped pilot from earth lands on the ship, and the Thayans--a furry cat-like race who are quite advanced--decide that it's time to take a stand against the little guys.

Interesting fact: the Thayans also live and work with humans who decided to remain among them.

So, we have a science fiction work that combines real elements of the fantastical and a host of fabulous characters. Add in the hint of real romance, magic-wielding, and some pretty excellent action sequences, and you get one hell of a debut.

I will admit: the first time I read it through, I was not expecting the sci-fi twist, and it threw me for a loop. But as I read through again, I realized what is really great about it: it breaks the mold in ways. The story is filled with very real people who practice real things: pagan magic, love for all (male-male, male-female, etc.), and a very human drive to move forward.

One other thing I value is that the book is written in a very readable fashion. It's not full of purple prose, which when I read it, again threw me off; I didn't realize how many novels really do involve that sort of writing. It's written in the style as if a good friend of yours is talking--someone a bit sarcastic, full of passion, realism, and well-wishing. If that makes sense.

So here's the good news: it's a fresh story from a promising author. I myself have not read anything comparable to it before, and it's a wind of fresh air. Likeable characters, a desire to see people working for the better, well-written, and filled with changing emotions.

Here are my other thoughts: For those who are very cookie-cutter with their books, this will throw you totally off-balance. It is a far cry from most traditional stories. If you are unfamiliar with paganism, you will have a semi-difficult time understanding some of the terms involved. There are a couple of periods when the story seems to slow a bit, but once you get through it then you get involved once more.

The over all message of the book, to me, is that love of your fellow beings (not all human) is possible. Not all beings are hateful. There are fantastic things in this world that some people never see, but maybe they might if they opened their minds a little. It's a great debut, the start of a series, and I cannot wait to follow more magical adventures.