A pre-Christian fertility cult is alive and well in modern-day Valparuta, Sicily. The "Benandanti" still do battle with the "Melandanti"...in Night Battles..to ensure the success of the Harvest. I am in no way equipped to discuss the historical aspects of this book...so i point my finger in the direction of a title mentioned by the Author herself The Night Battles: Witches and Agrarian Cults in the sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
by Carlo Ginzburg....there is also a Website for this book.....http://thenightbattles.com....
the Paranormal aspect of this book? Not the Laurell K Hamilton variety..no hunky weres and vamps..herein you will find Folklore still liviing..lying close to the living bones...herein you will also find two seriously flawed characters (the Romance angle, if you will)
............Joan: a failed American academic, trying to come to terms with her trashed career, her own past, her mother's death, her childhood in Sicily, to which she's returned in a last ditch effort at meaningful work
............Chiesa....the Man-of-Mystery...the Archivist of Valparuta....at whose behest Joan has landed in this Sicilian backwater.....Chiesa..a man with more secrets than is healthy for anyone to bear...is he, or is he not an actual Benandanti? or is he a flunky for the local Mafia (which no one names directly)?
who is using who(m) here? to what ends? the mutual obsession precludes any Romance-of-the- Doomed...in other words...HOLD THE HANKIES...neither of these people is likeable...too many sharp edges...Joan's tendency to ramble is annoying....but this trait works to the Author's purpose....which is to make a strange and compelling novel...one of the more Unusual i have read in the past year..and i am a Fool for the Unusual
4 Stars (and i look forward to the author's next effort..whenever)