White As Bone, Red As Blood: The Fox Sorceress
White As Bone, Red As Blood: The Fox Sorceress, by Cerridwen Fallingstar, is an enchanting tale of a young Japanese woman coming into her power in an age of transition.
This historical novel gives novel insights into womanhood within a culture of overwhelming female subjugation. Refreshingly, The Fox Sorceress is free of the undercurrent of victimhood which one might expect.
Fallingstar writes with such gentle yet skillful brushstrokes, she leaves you feeling as if you'd been gazing at an exquisite display of cherry blossom petals, softly falling where they may.
Though a few scenes are almost devastatingly painful, there is an overall harmony and hope twining through the book. Even in the midst of relentless male dominance, there are positive aspects to be harvested, and it is a gift to reframe domination into a form of liberation.
The Fox Sorceress is written in a simple style laced with poetic moments, yet it is clearly prose. This passage, for example, from near the beginning of the book ...
It is cold and eerie outside; I feel uneasy, as I have felt for the last few weeks. My unease deepens as a gust of wind sends a flurry of blossoms into my face. It is dark, and my mother has enough of a head start so I don't actually see her, but I can follow her. It is almost as if I can smell her, but it is not really a sense of smell, but an inner sense, as if I can feel the wake she leaves in the air. (P 8)
An added treat is the delicate and beautifully wrought poetry.
Where so many writers weave in clumsy verse needed to support the tale, Fallingstar's poetry enriches and enhances the text. Some of her poetry stayed with me for days...
Lips a bridge of flowers
Over the dark abyss....
Can such a fall be risked?
As for the love scenes, Fallingstar depicts sexuality with taste and a freshness that is uplifting as well as erotic.
The plot slides along on the changing winds of fortune, and seems likely to be developed in the sequel. The Fox Sorceress sets the tone more than the direction, but reading it is such a lovely experience that nothing else matters.
The story itself is like a poem: existing for the moment, opening the soul to a taste of beauty... and this is all the reason and purpose it needs.
The story captured me in the first pages, and I didn't want to put it down until finished... and not even then.
The characters are well-developed, believable, and likeable. Fallingstar manages to convey female characters who are strong yet complex, and male characters (for the most part) sympathetic and well-rounded.
While avoiding heavy-handed feminist dogma, The Fox Sorceress depicts empowered women creating their lives as best they can within patriarchal culture. Far from being man-hating, it is ripe and overflowing with woman-loving.
Fallingstar demonstrates a deep understanding of the ways of magic.
And an intimate connection and the Goddess permeates every page.
Cerridwen Fallingstar is a writer to keep an eye on. I find myself eagerly awaiting the sequel, White As Bone, Red As Blood: The Storm God. Luckily, to tide us over are Fallingstar's previously-published books.
Very highly recommended!
Without the magic, there is no harvest. And what is the root of magic? ... Love P 10
You must learn to be strong, daughter. You must learn not to forget who you really are. P 11
[All these men] talk of love and beauty, and eternally search for a woman to bring it to them, but fail to cultivate it within themselves. P 138
People like us have to make mothers and sisters where we can, and honor the Goddess however we can, for the whole earth is Her shrine.... P 164
... love-making is our favourite form of prayer. P 266
I often think this whole frenzy men have of worshipping the Buddha is simply their envy of a pregnant woman's calm, her effortless holding of creation's power. Without many of the statues of the Buddha appear pregnant, that is all I can think, is that he assuages their longing for the power of the Mother. P 266
Magic is of little use if people will not take the steps necessary in the physical world to manifest their desires. P 292
... that delightful feeling of having traveled in the land of the Gods one has after attending a birth. P 340
There are situations in which loyalty is the same as stupidity.... P 352-- White as Bone Red as Blood: The Fox Sorceress, Cerridwen Fallingstar. 2009, Cauldron Publications, ISBN 978-0-578-02711-1. (All bold text, my emphasis.)
Rating for The Fox Sorceress: 5 Stars
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