By Ronald Hutton
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
This book has a really interesting premise. The author examined four goddess figures – the Fairy Queen, Mother Earth (or Gaia), the Mistress of the Night, and the Gaelic Old Woman – to determine if they predated Christianity. In other words, were they Pagan remnants that managed to survive the Christianization of Europe and the British Isles?
By examining literature, archaeology, and history from before the Middle Ages up to the present, the author explored the evolution of these figures, as well as other entities such as Greek Goddesses, the Green Man, witches, and more. I won’t throw out any spoilers as to his conclusions.
While I loved the figures under examination, I had a hard time getting through the book. It was a slog – almost like reading a textbook. And not because it was particularly dry. There was so much information presented, I became overwhelmed. It took awhile to read because I had to keep stepping away from the book to digest the information. Seriously, this is not a “sit down and read it straight through over a few nights” kind of book. This is a “spend a few minutes a day with it, digest what you’ve read, then continue on the next day” read. Or at least, it was for me. Maybe I’m too far removed from college (because I totally would have taken a course on this) and can’t digest this much information any more. Or maybe if it HAD been a college course, a semester or a few weeks would have been a better timeline for reading it.
Given the phenomenal amount of information in this book, it deserves to be studied slowly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of time to devote to it and ended up being a bit overwhelmed, which is the main thing that influenced my rating.
I rated this book 3 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Yale University Press for providing the ARC copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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