Elaine Bergstrom,
The Door Through Washington Square
(Ace, 1998)

Real magick is born out of need, fueled by hope and desire. At least, that's the way Elaine Bergstrom sees it. The Door Through Washington Square is a modern fantasy novel that examines this need and the people who are capable of wielding such power.

Dierdre MacCallum finally feels as though her life is coming together, until she receives word of her Grandmum's summons to stay with her until she dies. Unable to refuse her family's wishes, Dierdre leaves her comfortable life in Calgary and travels to New York City, back to her Grandmum's Greenwich Village townhouse and the vague memories of her childhood. To her surprise, Dierdre learns that her Grandmum has been hiding a secret for most of her life -- a secret that could change Diedre's life forever. As Grandmum's death quickly approaches, Diedre must learn all she can about Grandmum's relationship with Aleister Crowley and the magick that lies at the center of the entire MacCallum estate.

Bergstrom's work is heavily researched; in fact, much of the information about Crowley comes from his own books. The plot was interesting and pleasantly complex, and the characters were charming enough. Bergstrom's use of Thelemic ritual and magick , combined with the bawdy atmosphere of New York in the 1920s, kept me interested in the novel from beginning to end. And while the book wasn't spectacular, it was entertaining and new, as I've never studied much about Crowley and his magick. However, I found it almost impossible to overlook the numerous errors contained in the novel; apparently, no one bothered to proof it before publication.

The Door Through Washington Square is a pleasant romp through New York City now and then; Bergstrom does an able job melding magick and the mundane. It didn't reach out and grab me right away, but then again, I didn't quit in the middle while reading, either.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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