It’s tough to make intellectuals sexy, but Natasha Mostert, a London-based South African novelist, pulls it off in Season of the Witch, her newest novel and a tour de force of Gothic eroticism that seduces from start to finish without reprieve.
Gabriel Blackstone is a hacker specializing in information piracy. A wireless network is as good as an open window - and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s just a little bit psychic. Recruited while at university for a government organization called Eyestorm, Gabriel was groomed as a “remote viewer,” able to tap into the consciousness of another person and literally see inside their brains. Gabriel’s power eclipsed that of all the other recruits, but he quit in ignominy after an investigation resulted in a murder.
Now, Gabriel spends his days on corporate jobs and his nights yearning for something more. When an old girlfriend asks him to use his remote viewing abilities to find her husband’s son, his investigation leads him to Monk House, the home of sisters Minnaloushe, a romantic intellectual, and Morrighan, a daring adventurer. His remote viewing showed that one of the sisters murdered the young man, but the details are hazy. Gabriel hacks into the sisters’ computer and discovers a diary in which the author, going only by “M,” describes her growing attraction to Gabriel and reveals a lust for knowledge and experience that captivates Gabriel. He’s falling in love - but is the writer of the diary the murderer? And which sister is which?
As Gabriel falls deeper into the sisters’ thralldom, he uncovers a world of alchemy, sensuality, and magic. Mostert builds her story on an inspired foundation, one steeped in medieval mysticism, and manages to avoid the pitfalls of high-mindedness and pretension by crafting a suspenseful plot rooted in compelling characters. Season of the Witch, now available in the U.S. and the U.K., is a beautifully written, thoroughly entrancing novel with fire burning through every page.