Hand masterly crafts a story that often reads as a opium poppy fueled trip and has been compared to The Secret History, due to its rich language, college setting, pagan influences and peculiar characters. In Waking the Moon, eccentric and pretty Oliver comes sit next to our narrator Sweeney Cassidy in class and - mistakingly - befriends her.
Oh, Sweeney knows that she was never supposed to meet an Oliver. Nor a spectacular Angelica, with her scent of sandalwood and oranges. But she accidentally becomes involved with the two, just when a thousands of years old suppressed Pagan goddess choses Angelica to destroy the world. A patriarchal world which was, up until now, carefully controlled by the Benandanti, an ancient male cult. They are willing to do anything to prevent the goddess from gaining power. But she has a few tricks up her sleeve as well and sacrificing Sweeney's love Oliver is one of them.
I was - and still am - quite impressed by Hand's excellent research on pagan cultures and her ability to blend archaeological discoveries and rituals into a compelling story. Some parts are delicious to read, such as the scene in which Magda discovers the Lunula: a magical blend of thrilling reality and feverish dreams, peppered with lush descriptions of creatures and scents. Sigh..An all time favorite.