Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author/publisher to The Pagan & The Pen Book Reviews. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Apr 19, 2010

Midsummer Night by Erin O'Riordan


Title:  Midsummer Night
Author: Erin O’Riordan
Publisher:  eXcessica Publishing
Genre: Contemporary romance
Length: 268 pgs.
Other: M/F, F/F, sex in public places (no exhibitionism)
Pagan & Pagan Elements: yes/yes 
Reviewed by: Violet Harper

About The Book: Priestess-in-training and part-time witch, Zen Van Zandt loves biology grad student Ramesh Sudhra. Only two things stand in the way of their happiness: his traditional Indian-American family doesn’t welcome Zen, and Zen’s training requires a yearlong vow of celibacy. Between Ramesh’s stern mother’s disapproval, Zen’s vow of celibacy, and her assistant’s romantic troubles with a wild new witch, Zen wonders if she and Ramesh will ever see their wedding day.

The Review: 

Midsummer’s Night has a large cast of characters. The majority of the novel is told from Zen's POV.  Ramesh and various other characters tell a tiny portion of the story. I found this annoying because I expect to be in Zen's head, and then suddenly I'm not. Some readers who read the first novel in the series might look upon suddenly finding themselves witnessing sex between main characters from the first novel as a visit to old friends, but I found it extraneous to the story. It added nothing to the plot or character development.  It was sex for the sake of sex. Since the majority of the story is 3rd person limited, it should all be that way. 
Zen is supposed to be empathic, but the feelings are labeled instead of described. It’s ironic that Zen is able to experience other people’s emotions, but the reader isn’t able to do so.  In this way, Ms. O’Riordan’s writing style is very post-modern, which I thought didn’t quite match up with the intended spirituality of the novel.   

The love scenes were steamy, but they were virtually the only parts of the novel where the characters seemed real. That really bothered me, and it made it hard for me to remain engaged as I read. There wasn't enough plot for the story to be plot-driven and there wasn't enough emotional detail for it to be character-driven.   

Finally, I read this through the lens of a Pagan practitioner. The couple from the first novel (Allie and Orlando) had a Catholic wedding and agreed to raise the kids as Catholics. I find that to be incongruent with their supposed belief systems, and it wasn't really rationalized.  This didn't really bother me all that much until the main character, Zen, decided to embrace Hinduism.  Her transcendental experiences with the Hindu holy places were described in stunning detail- the only place besides the bedroom where that happened. I would have preferred to have that detail given to the Pagan experiences. However, no rationalization was given for Zen's religious conversion. She had a Hindu wedding.  As a Pagan, I find this serial 'jumping ship' disturbing. I know there are similarities between Pagan and Catholic beliefs/rituals and between Hindu and Pagan beliefs/rituals. I would have liked to have known the reasoning behind these departures from the Paganism all the characters supposedly embraced as their belief systems. 

Pagan Elements: Candles, tarot readings, Imbolc celebration mixed with birthing ceremony, reversal of gender terms (e.g. old husband’s tale instead of old wives tale, oh goddesses instead of oh god), Winter Solstice celebrations

Cover (Rated 1-10): 1—There was no cover art on the e-book. Looking online, I found a cover for the print edition. It was done in shades of violet, so it definitely would have caught my attention.


Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & The Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.


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