In Mistification Kaaron Warren creates a character called Marvo the magician; a stage magician whose magic is real. It’s a world where a small number of true magicians use the “mist” to keep the horrors of reality hidden from the world.
It starts with Marvo trapped in an attic with his grandmother. They’re hiding from something and can never speak above a whisper. When Marvo does escape he leans in close and talks directly into peoples ears so they can hear him; a beautiful touch of someone trying to find his place in humanity.
He quickly realises that he is not like everyone else, both in the way he was born and the way he sees the world. He starts trying to find out more about the world and takes a story from each person he meets, learning a lesson from each one. These do become a little too frequent and it starts to feel like a book of short stories threaded together with Marvo’s story.
I struggled with Marvo because his thoughts and actions are so abstract, and those of his girlfriend and stage partner Andra, that we never really relate to them. Andra is a witch who uses traditional methods to cure people (to cure a toothache, carry the tooth from a corpse of the opposite sex in you pocket) and a good portion of the book is given over to detailing this type of paganistic remedies. This makes the book so much harder to read, though the writing is excellent, as it focuses on these two characters for much of the 379 pages with the plot coming almost as an afterthought.
The book does bring together some very unusual subjects though, such as natural remedies, witchcraft, historical tragedies, magic, recipes and puzzles, which creates a very interesting world. There are even a number of appendices that explain some parts of book, including the recipes that Marvo and Andra prepare together.
This world, though impressive, is just too abstruse both in the actions of Marvo and the people around him. You’re never really sure why we need the “mist”, what is Marvo hiding from us, which is the whole plot of the book. What things are so bad that Marvo is willing to bring down the mist for good? Because we focus so much on Marvo and Andra there are so many areas that are left unexplored which does take a lot away from it.
If you are a looking for a pagan’s version of stranger in a strange land then this book is for you, but I’d just stick with the original.
Written on 29th July 2011 by Mozley Hayes.
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