Author: William Tevelein
Hardback, 419 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publication date: September 2002
Only Available in Australia
This is the first book in The Casting of the Golden Dice series and after reading it you will be left hanging out for the next installment ...and the next, and the next! Its not hard to see that William Tevelein has quite a lot of experience in both the Wiccan world and the larger New Age phenomena (which he mercilessly lampoons). The Visitants, his first novel, hosts over fifty characters who appear and disappear throughout the 419 pages. We meet Australian Wiccans, a megalomaniacal "Witch Queen", reserved British "Fam Trad" witches, an Anthropologist studying "the occult", a journalist investigating Wicca who gets more that she bargained for, a slimey photographer, a grandmotherly Spiritualist, ethereal Elves, a Satyr, Frost Giants, Old Ones, all whirling through myriad events which range from the rather usual to the extremely supernatural, bending the laws of space and time.
Those of you who have read Katherine Kurtz' Lammas Night (about the efforts of English Witches to repel Hitler's invasion), will find a strange echo here in The Visitants in the person of Mavis Huxton -- nubile teen witch who, after trying to lend an ill-advised hand to the adults engaged in this rite, gets sucked through a between-the-worlds vortex into an elvish realm, never to return to middle earth. There she meets Pherel, cute and golden, who helps Mavis in her attempts and find a passage back to her home in England, only to be sucked out of his own land into several others ranging from the reasonably friendly to the downright, lets say, chilly.
Unlike a novel such as Lammas Night however, the infinitely more contemporary and sophisticated Visitants includes a skillfully rendered visual description of the structure of the Norse World Tree, Yggdrasil, as well as several musings upon the nature of other "worlds." You will probably even learn something useful from reading this book. Not one to take himself too seriously though, Tevelein's writing is laced throughout with a humor reminiscent of Terry Pratchett which makes The Visitants a rather rollicking journey betwixt and between the worlds. With an eye-catching metallic purple cover featuring a skyclad elf (who looks rather familiar to me), you'll find this book in the fantasy section of all worthwhile bookstores [in Australia, at least -- The webmaster].
Reviewed by Caroline Tully