Summary and book reviews of Daemonomania by John Crowley

Daemonomania

By John Crowley

Daemonomania
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2000,
    464 pages.
    Paperback: May 2008,
    464 pages.

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Book Summary

For the people in this novel, the concerns of everyday life--children and love affairs, work and friendship--are beginning to transmute into the extraordinary and to reveal the forces, dark and light, that truly govern their lives.

So it is for Pierce Moffett, would-be historian and author, who has moved from New York to the Faraway Hills, where he seems to discover--or rediscover--a path into magic, past and present. And so it is for Rosie Rasmussen, a single mother grappling with her mysterious uncle's legacy and her young daughter Samantha's inexplicable seizures. For Pierce's lover Rose Ryder, whose life is lived half in dream, another path unfolds: she's drawn into a cult that promises to exorcise her demons.

A great cycle of time is ending, as it did once before, in the bygone days of witchcraft and wars of religion. The lives of Renaissance wizard John Dee and rogue philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake, haunt the present: their stories, true and false, are being reenacted in the peaceful Faraway Hills and may hold the key to the future. It is the dark of the year, between Halloween and the winter solstice, and the gateway is open between the worlds of the living and the dead. Pierce and Rosie, Samantha and Rose Ryder, and their enemies and allies--who have powers hidden until now--must take sides in an age-old war that is approaching the final battle.

Or is it? In a John Crowley novel, nothing is as it seems. Crowley draws us into a cosmic tug-of-war between familiarity and strangeness, couples us with characters much like ourselves, and then works his own potent magic on the proceedings. Dæmonomania is a journey into the very mystery of existence: what is, what went before, and what could break through at any moment in our lives.

When the world ends, it ends somewhat differently for each soul then alive to see it; the end doesn't come all at once but passes and repasses over the world like the shivers that pass over a horse's skin. The coming of the end might at first lift and shake just one county, one neighborhood, and not the others around it; might feelably ripple beneath the feet of these churchgoers and not of these taverngoers down the street, shatter only the peace of this street, this family, this child of this family who at that moment lifts her eyes from the Sunday comics and knows for certain that nothing will ever be the same again.

But though the world ends sooner for some than for others, each one who passes through it--or through whom it passes--will be able to look back and know that he has moved from the old world to the new, where willy-nilly he will die: will know it though all around him his neighbors are still living in the old world, amid its old comforts and fears. And that ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The New York Times Book Review

A major new novel from an author, whose writing is a dizzying experience, achieved with unerring, security of technique.

Library Journal

This third literary fantasy in Crowley's Aegypt series continues his trademark convoluted blend of past and present. The scenes in the novel move between the lives of historical figures such as philosopher/magician John Dee and Giordano Bruno and that of contemporary single mother Rosie Rasmussen, her daughter Sam, and the people surrounding her. Past, present, and people become intertwined in the age-old conflict between magic and Christianity, and everyday occurrences become somehow extraordinary. Crowley is at his best when illuminating the enchantment present in day-to-day life, yet in places he tends to allow his own cleverness to interfere with the stories of his characters.

Publishers Weekly

Combining brilliant storytelling with mind-catching philosophical musings, Crowley's latest novel pushes fantasy fiction toward its most thrilling, intelligent heights.

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