Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review Of "NO REST FOR THE WICCA" by Toni LoTempio

NO REST FOR THE WICCA by Toni LoTempio $2.99 eBook
RATED: Fun To Read But Don't Trust The Religious Details (They're Highly Inaccurate).

I really loved the writing style of Toni LoTiemp's book, "No Rest For The Wicca." It's lively, fast-paced and presents a fantastic witch's tale intertwined with an interesting "who done it" plot where “evil can fester even in the best of men . . ." The eclectic witch Morgan tries very hard to determine who is killing hereditary witches. In her words: "Vanquishing daemons and exorcising ghosts is an important part of law enforcement, even though the big boys upstairs don’t share our sentiments.” 

Please stay focused on this first fact, that I really loved the writing pace in this book, when you read the last part of this review, which emphasizes what destroyed the fun, for me (inconsistencies and false descriptions of religious practices).

The author writes great dialog. Here's an example where main character is talking to Cole, later referred to as a "supercilious bastard." I wanted to slap that smug half-smile off his oh-so-handsome face. “Well, great, Sherlock. Let’s hear ‘em.” “Not here. Let’s meet back at SF Headquarters at oh-four hundred.” I took a deep breath. “Fine.”

As a book addict, I like to feel like I can trust whatever is presented as known reality in a fantasy book and regard it as fact. So if an author writes a fairy tale about huge trolls flying with delicate tiny wings around modern New York, I want everything that's said about The Big Apple to be authentic and factual. Unfortunately, I did not feel confident that the religious aspects of this book (known realities) were truthful or correct; not hardly at all.

That's what created a rather large problem for me because the story takes the reader to "witch school" and presents itself as an authority on religion when it's clearly NOT accurate in that regard. Not in many ways. Here's the first clue as to why this book should not be taken too seriously. Not only does the author capitalize Wicca and not Voodoo (a fact that should tell readers something about how the author feels about the two religions) but she does precisely what Hollywood has done to demonize Voodoo, that religion that comforts the severely oppressed and suffering.

In all fairness, even Wicca is wrongly presented as lacking "oomph" when it comes to facing down evil spirits. The "no oomph" is  why main character Morgan presents herself as a half-Wiccan who practices sensationalized Voodoo. She catches daemons off-guard by carrying a Voodoo gourd. She also employs Voodoo powder and sings Voodoo chants (while she doesn't seem to do any of the necessary work in that religion and does not pay homage to any Voodoo Lwa).

Truth is, everything I've read about Voodoo practitioners (from non-fiction) suggests they are monotheistic (believe in a loving but terribly busy God whose not always available). That's why the religion has ancestral spirits known as Lwa (much like Catholics honor saints who were previously human - the Lwa may have time to help those oppressed who call upon them).

Unfortunately, Toni LoTiempo doesn't seem to understand these known realities. She wrongfully demonizes some Lwa and wrongfully presents the Lwa Marinette, who was strongly instrumental in launching the Haitian Revolution, freeing people from horrible slavery and often sparing them from violent death. QUOTE FROM BOOK: “Have you ever heard of Marinette?” I looked at him, startled. “She’s a female lwa—one who oversees black magic and evil works. Why do you ask?”

THIS PART WAS BETTER: attending a lecture, Morgan hears the instructor present a class on Voodoo like this: “Many think voodoo is some sort of mystic rite, mumbo-jumbo connected with zombies, pagan gods, and the likes. I hope to enlighten you, during my series of lectures, that voodoo is actually a religion shrouded in mystery, in myth, if you will, for centuries. If there’s anyone here who thinks all there is to voodoo is black magic spells, pins stuck in dolls, and the living dead, get out! I mean it. Get out now.”

Unfortunately, I did not take that instructor's advice to "get out" and subsequently found many more falsifications and other ways that the book presents religion incorrectly.

Example 1: Erroneously implying there's more than one God in Voodoo, deity whom someone might call upon for empowering a voodoo doll. (Note: Voodoo is not capitalized when it accompanies an object because then it's not a proper name but a "thing" we're talking about.)
"The power of a voodoo doll comes not from the object, but rather from the one who made it. They are not considered toys, but rather a messenger to the other side, usually a particular god."

Example 2: Correctly admitting Lwa are not Gods but falsely claiming that all who practice black magic are Satanists. "Black magic witchcraft, or Satanism, revolves around the worship of Lucifer. Thinking of the African spirits as gods is a mistake"

Example 3: Erroneously referring to Voodoo as having more than one God and referring to the Lwa (saints) as Gods (conflicting with what's said in example #2). “An excellent point. I myself am not as well versed in voodoo as either Professors Graft or Morrow, but I do know some lwa’s, the voodoo gods, are depicted as dark and dangerous, while not considered evil."

THEN THERE'S FALSE SENSATIONALISM. Repeatedly, the author demonizes Voodoo for having participated in human sacrifice, historically, when nearly all religions - even Christianity, Judaism and Paganism - have also done that. Have you ever heard of the term Odic Force?” He shook his head. “Can’t say I have.” “I did some research on it. It’s got roots in both Wiccan and Haitian Voodoo. The voodoo part, however, could involve some sort of human sacrifice.”

Then, again, much later: (realize that I'm not particularly picky about typos but this book does have a lot of them with spacing problems and sentence structure issues): "Someone is killing these witches as a service to an lwa, hoping to get something in exchange." (Suggesting the Lwa want spiritual people to commit murder.)

CONCLUSION: If you're looking for a sensationalized read - and don't care if the facts presented in the book are accurate or not - then you will be highly entertained by NO REST FOR THE WICCA. Author Toni LoTempio is highly creative and her work shows great imagination.

Blogger's Admission: The author emailed her book to me, unsolicited, as a free copy, in exchange for my honest assessment and review. 

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