Sunday, February 4, 2024

Saturnalia, by Stephanie Feldman

Saturnalia is set in a near future Philadelphia in an America that has been much altered by climate change. The city is now host to various pagan clubs and secret societies, with social climbers and elites mixing together, some with aims of getting a very valuable ticket out to somewhere safe. They hope to accomplish this via occult means, involving the successful creation of a homunculus, and a frightening mandragora. The story involves a small number of friends and former-friends, all with murky motivations that seem to shift a bit too easily. The main narrative depends upon something which happened three years earlier, but which is only gradually revealed to the reader via flashbacks. The prose is solid, and the plotting compelling and hallucinatory, as the novel enfolds over a short span of time. A few loose ends remain, but overall I very much enjoyed this book, especially in its opening up of a new world of occultism at play in a ravaged future.

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