Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kala Trobe: The Magick Bookshop

Through some process of serendipity, fate, or karma (I am not sufficiently familiar with the vocabulary of magick, or esotericism, to know the right term) I came across a copy of Kala Trobe’s The Magick Bookshop in my local public library.

The Magick Bookshop is a novel, with the subtitle Stories of the Occult. It is published by Llewellyn, a firm I have not come across before. Based in St Paul, Minnesota, they specialise in books on wicca, paganism, shamanism, magick, and the like. Founded in 1901, they are obviously well established and successful.

Kala Trobe’s book is a most unusual read. I might have referred to it as ‘original’ but that is a term which I try to avoid. Books labelled as ‘original’ usually aren’t, being based very firmly on someone else’s work. And, if they are truly original, they normally aren’t much good. So I won’t say that The Magick Bookshop is original; but it is certainly unusual and different. I recommend it to you, but I do offer a warning: you have to be prepared to be open to some new ideas. If you are one of those feet-on-the-ground people who can’t bear to read any form of fantasy, science fiction, or imaginative/speculative work, then this probably isn’t for you.

The novel takes the form of six linked stories; they all centre around people who work in, or patronise, Mr Malynowsky’s antiquarian bookshop in Oxford.

The book is clearly based on the author’s personal experience. The blurb tells us that she has been ‘rigorously trained in magick and occult symbology’, and that at one time she ran a bookshop such as the one described in her novel.

I don’t think I need tell you much more than this. The writing is fluent, practised, and eminently readable. According to the author’s web site, another series of stories may appear soon.

I can’t say that I am overly familiar with occult fiction, but Llewellyn seems to publish a fair bit of it. What I do remember is that fifty years ago the English writer Dennis Wheatley had a whole series of bestsellers based on the occult. The books remain in print (312 listed on UK Amazon) and a few fans remain loyal. So there is an audience, and perhaps Kala is the one who will hit the big time; she seems to have the talent.