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Waking the Moon [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Hand
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 25 1995
Beginning her first year at the University of the Archangels, Katherine Sweeney Cassidy accidentally discovers the existence of the Benandanti, a clandestine order that has been secretly manipulating the world's governments and institutions.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When Sweeney Cassidy, a naive freshman at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine in Washington, D.C., falls in with the wrong crowd, she is expelled for taking part in a lurid escapade. But Hand (Icarus Descending) offers no usual tale of adolescent antics in this full-blooded gothic fantasy. The university is a haven of the Benandanti, who for millennia have guarded against the return of their ancient foe, Othiym Lunarsa, the Moon Goddess. In Hand's post-feminist tale, however, the goddess is not a comfortable earth mother figure but a powerful destroyer. The Benandanti are unaware that Sweeney's friends Oliver and Angelica are the Chosen Ones, whose violent coupling under the moon will begin to wake Othiym. Oliver kills himself, Angelica disappears and Sweeney is whisked away by the Benandanti. Twenty years later, Sweeney's summer intern at the National Museum of Natural History turns out to be the son of her old classmates, the result of that wild moonlit night. Young Dylan's mother has become Angelica Furiano, a New Age author with a large following of goddess worshippers. As Angelica's power grows, fed by the blood of young men, she is gradually becoming the goddess. But Sweeney, vowing to thwart the transformation, confronts Othiym in an apocalyptic showdown. Blending the ancient with the modern, the fantastic with the real, Hand has created a violently sensual fable helped by smart pacing and vibrant prose.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A potent socio-erotic ghost story for our looming Millennium." -- -- William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Virtual Light

"An extraordinary work--An ambitious, erotically charged thriller" -- -- Clive Barker, author of Everville

"Ms. Hand is a superior stylist." -- -- The New York Times Book Review

"The tropic lushness of Hand's descriptions are only one reward awaiting her reader." -- -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A potent socio-erotic ghost story for our looming Millennium." -- William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Virtual Light

"An extraordinary workAn ambitious, erotically charged thriller" -- Clive Barker, author of Everville

"Superior. An author worth watching, not to mention recommending." -- Booklist

"The tropic lushness of Hand's descriptions are only one reward awaiting her reader." -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please don't yell at me July 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once again I'm in the minority, left hoping people don't send me outraged emails just because I like what I like and don't what I don't.
Sorry, but this is one of the worst-written books I've ever tried to read -- awkward, obvious, graceless. The sense of mystery generated by the synopsis and cover blurbs is destroyed by two or three pages in, when all the relevant signposts are all-too-clearly laid in place: startling, ubiquitous angelic statuary? Check. Centuries-old buildings hidden behind trees? Check. Archaeological expert wearing jewelry with unexplained missing piece? Check. Ancient order observing mystical signs? Check. And that's by, oh, page seven? What happened to leading readers, let alone characters, into your dark designs in an intruiging way? It certainly isn't something which, judging by this book (and in fairness, it's the only one of Ms. Hand's I've seen) the author is capable of. Even the title tells you exactly what's going to happen. Humbug.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sure cure for insomnia June 8 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Remember that student-published "literature/poetry" journal from your college days? Overwrought "deep" symbolism, so obvious and clumsy it hurts? Well, if you liked that, you'll LOVE this! I stuck with this book for 100 painful pages hoping that, sooner or later, something would happen that wouldn't have me cringing at the ridiculous situations, unbelievable and unlikeable characters and horrible writing. I should have quit after the first chapter. Skip this one, believe me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ranks right up there with one of my best reads Dec 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book held me enthralled from the moment I picked it up, and as soon as I finished it I proclaimed to my husband that it was one of the best books I'd ever read. Ms. Hand's use of imagery is amazingly articulate, and I had complete pictures in my mind of each character as they were introduced. And the story itself... one of the best right up until the very end.
My only single complaint, like someone else mentioned, would have to be the author's use of a number of old English or historical words and phrases that I found myself looking up in a dictionary sometimes to fully grasp the meaning of a particular passage. (Often after reading through a few paragraphs, I could often get a general idea of what a particular word meant, but sometimes, the meaning was totally lost on me without looking it up.) That said, I *am* an educated individual, just not very strong in historical subjects. But in a way, I felt I got a neat little history lesson review in that regard. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trite and unconvincing Feb. 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was quite aggravated that I spent a couple of days of my life reading this novel. At first, the style of the book was quite gripping but after part 1 this pseudo- literary attempt flounders. The characters are described effectively but one never gets to the heart of their personalities. Frankly, several elements of the story are laughable: the Benandanti, the romance of Sweeney and Dylan being just two. As a Goddess worshipper I was not delighted with the overall hostile tone of the novel towards Goddess spirituality; don't fool yourself into thinking this is is a feminist take on Goddess craft. Plus, some of her 'facts' about particular Goddesses are wrong.
I would have liked this book more if Hand had not described everyone's outfits and faces in such mind-numbing ways. Many pages of this book leave you bored, bored, bored! Read this if you go more for style over substance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich, textured, depth, realism, emotion. Jan. 22 2004
By Auliya
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Despite a few clumsy transitions from description to action here and there, and despite an awkward timesharing between super-magical and super-real, this book is excellent. The characters are vivid, real enough to touch. The historical magic is handled intelligently and with a sense of high drama (if even well-done melodrama turns you off, beware). The book has style and strength. The prose is evocative, richly texturely, deeply involving. The topics range from practical love and human conflict to cultural issues spanning time and country. There's enough romance - of people, of place - to fill your head until you're breathless. I highly recommend it. Highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Be seduced Nov. 7 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Leaving her protective parents to go away to college, Sweeney Cassidy goes wild. She skips classes, stays out all night, and basically spends her first semester constantly drunk. Into this haze come the ethereal Oliver and the seductive Angelica, who become her best friends, and with both of whom Sweeney falls in love. The only trouble is, the school is controlled by an Illuminati-esque secret society; Angelica is a chosen avatar of a vengeful goddess; and Oliver is marked as her first sacrifice. This situation plays out tragically, and a shaken Sweeney transfers to another school, where she gets her degree and settles into "normal" life. Then, eighteen years later, her college ghosts come back to haunt her, as old friends come out of the woodwork, and Angelica prepares for the final denouement with the secret society. Sweeney is suddenly back in the mysterious world she glimpsed as a teenager.
Mixed in with this hypnotically written story is a political battle between the Matriarchy (represented by Angelica) and the Patriarchy (the secret society); between the Goddess and the world that has ignored her for millennia. One of the best touches of Hand's book is that she doesn't really take sides, except maybe to hint that the fault of both philosophies is the extremes they go to. Even when Sweeney makes her decision at the end, she makes it for personal reasons and not because she agrees with either side. This was the book that got me investigating Goddess mythology several years ago, and it's also a fever-dream of a story, with a sympathetic heroine and a unique style. I've read it a gazillion times.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hand's best book by far
Elizabeth Hand is a truly wicked author. If you learn about the ancient cults worshipping Attis and Adonis, your interpretation of what happened at the end may be reversed 180... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2003 by Peter W. Shor
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Hand's writing is mesmerizing.
Although I first read this book years ago, I find myself compelled to reread parts of it from time to time. It is a powerful book, and vivid in my memory. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books and a new favorite author
I love this novel. Read it! I discovered it by accident in a supermarket a few years ago and haven't forgotten it. Read more
Published on June 22 2002 by Amy Hamilton Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
A great Read! Blood sacrifice, Feminine cults, moon worship--whooee! Ms Hand has done her homework--the book is VERY convincing, and a sexy, thrilling ride. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2002 by Tom Mula
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst thing I have picked up in years
I dont know what I was expecting when I purchased this book, but I did not get it. The writing itself was passable, however there was no story. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by "andi_hawke"
4.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC
I purchased this book by mistake. I got Hand mixed up with another author. What a lucky accident for me! I loved this book. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
A friend of mine told me to read this book, that it was one of her favorites. She went on to say that it was "You know, secret societies, witchcraft and Minoan things. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite book of all time
I'm serious. If anyone asks me what my favorite book is, this has consistantly been my answer for the past four years. Read more
Published on July 25 2001 by amy
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