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Dark Sister [Paperback]

Graham Joyce
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3 2000
Maggie and Alex have their problems. their old, drafty house, for one thing. Their stressed-out marriage, for another.

Then one day, uncovering and cleaning the house's original fireplace, they discover a dead blackbird...and an old handwritten diary full of herbal lore.

Maggie takes an interest in the diary. Soon, with the help of her friends Ash, and herbalist,and Old Liz, and old woman with a deep knowledge of ancient ways, Maggie tried to find her way in a world of power and magic. But Maggie's searching has awakened her Dark Sister, a malevolent force that threatens her hold on her family and her sanity.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Dark Sister is the third book by British fantasy writer Graham Joyce to be published in the United States--and the author travels further into the realm of pure horror than he did in The Tooth Fairy or Requiem. Maggie, an unfulfilled, restless housewife in England, comes to terms with her nascent, otherworldly power amidst a disheveled and antagonistic domestic life. Her archaeologist-husband Alex is subtly dominating, which makes for an unfulfilling marriage. So, Maggie buries herself in the chaos of her small children, until a chance discovery both liberates her and invokes catastrophe.

During a routine cleaning of a chimney fireplace, she discovers an herbalist's journal; soon after, her life unfurls wildly and runs horribly aground. It seems that the owner of the journal was not just an herb woman, but also a witch with real powers. Inspired by this forgotten woman, Maggie begins to dabble in the arts of Wicca. The gifts it brings her are powerful--a sense of freedom, purpose, even clairvoyance. But every gift has its counterbalance, and Maggie's newfound telepathy allows her to see things she might have wanted to remain hidden. Even more ominously, it seems that in unearthing the journal, Maggie has awakened deep tragedies from an abandoned time, and the evil that now stalks her and her family might be insatiable and unstoppable. --Tamara Hladik --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Tooth Fairy was a PW Best Book of 1998.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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When Alex had ripped out the boards, in a cracking and splintering of wood, he called Maggie. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
"Dark Sister" is not your ordinary novel about witchcraft. When Maggie, a housewife and mother of two children, and Alex and archeologist, move into a new home, Maggie longs to uncover and use the old fireplace in the house, so Alex pries away its boarded covering to expose the long unused fireplace. While a chimney sweep is cleaning the chimney, he finds a diary hidden inside. Maggie claims the diary and begins to read the over 100 year old book. She discovers that the author is "Bella". She first suspects that Bells was simply an herbalist, but quickly discovers that she was a witch who lived in the house over a hundred years before.
Bound by her husband's lack of respect for her and her dreams [he forbids her to return to school to study psychology, wanting her to be a "proper mother], and the duties of mothering, Maggie searches for her identity by reading the diary and learning more about the remedies and potions described within.
Unable to find all of the herbs mentioned, or to understand the old English words for some of them, she engages the help of a local herbalist, Ash, who has a shop in town. She develops a strong bond with Ash, who is concerned for Maggies zeal to dive in too quickly to the potions and magic described in Bella's diary. He sends Maggie to "Liz" a strange old woman who lives alone and who is quite obviously a witch. Liz shares her knowledge with Maggie, but holds back a secret that is later revealed in the novel.
As Maggie becomes more and more involved in witchcraft, the time she spends away from home and her children becomes a sore point between she and her husband, Alex, who would prefer that she sit at home, minding the children all day.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Completely engrossing with dark twists. April 1 2004
This is a book meant to be read in one sitting, preferably on a dark dreary night while the wind is howling through all of the cracks & crevices of old windows. Though I have the old, drafty windows, unfortunately, I no longer have the luxury of reading anything in one sitting and was forced to settle for half hour reading spurts whenever I could steal away from the various noises (kids fighting, husband yapping, tv blaring) residing in my home. Despite the pick-up and put-down method of my reading I was able to fall into the book all over again each time I began anew. This really says something about the story considering I'm unable to get through 3 out of 4 books I read lately. Like the previous Graham Joyce book I read "The Tooth Fairy", the characters in Dark Sister are realistic, imperfect people with many flaws. No one is perfect through and through.
Maggie is an engrossing character caught in a stifling marriage. She's a stay-at-home mom who longs for a little more than keeping house (and getting criticized by husband Alex when things are not up to his standards). Alex, an insecure turd, is the type who would lock her in a tower and throw away the key if he could get away with it and refuses to allow her to return to school. When the not-so-happy couple discover an old journal filled with herbal lore Maggie becomes a little obsessed with learning its secrets. As Maggie delves deeper into the world of magic and makes two new friends (a lonely herbalist and an eccentric, crusty old lady) who become part of her journey, her marriage continues to go down the tubes. I found Maggie's magical discoveries quite interesting but it's the increasing destruction of her family life that adds an emotionally grueling level to the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, but still amazing... March 2 2003
I very much enjoyed Dark Sister on its own merits, but of course it is impossible not to compare it to his previous works. For all the intensity this book brings, it felt somewhat "light" to me compared to "The Tooth Fairy". However, Graham Joyce could write a shopping list and it would still be better than almost anything being written today. I am still amazed by his ability to draw you into a very real story with very real and sympathetic characters, and then introduce through dark, fantastical elements the magic that underlies all our lives, if we are open enough to see them. This blend is amazingly difficult to achieve, and again he does it with well crafted prose and wonderful insight. I look forward to a long and prolific career from Mr. Joyce.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good but dark read Jan. 8 2003
I am a reader of fictional books on magick. That is the obvious reason I went right into this one. The charactors were easy to love and hate as the book was written quite vividly. Sometimes it was very hard to tell what to think of a charactor though as the twists in the story lead you deaper into the mystery of who the "dark sister" really is. I suppose what was least enjoyable about the book was that with all the characters so real that every twenty pages you would get almost a glimps of Wonderland... these quite disturbing happenings that are occuring don't quite fit in the novel. It reminds me to some degree of "Practical Magic" the novel in its dark randerings... except Joyce's style of writing is very fast paced. The witchcraft in this book does not enter at all into the spiritual aspect and I can not say how well of a basis that the Herbal lore/magick has, though it is written in such a way that it is inrapturing. Overall it is not a book to read to brighten the mood, or to read unless you want to feel a little thrill and douse yourself in someone elses problems for a while.
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