Magdalen Rising: The Beginning
Raised on the mythical Isle of Women by eight weather-witching mothers and no father but the sea god, Maeve the Red first catches a glimpse of her cosmic twin in the reflection of a pool. Caught disturbing the scholars in Jerusalem’s temple with his impertinent questions “about my father’s business,” the boy of her vision is told by the old prophetess Anna to leave his people and seek wisdom among the distant Keltoi. Pursuit of their conjoined fates brings them to the druidic school, where ancient wisdom abounds, along with dark violence erupting from a hidden past.
This novel is not for everyone. Strict Christians may want to stoke the bonfire to Fahrenheit 451 at the very notion of Jesus of Nazareth meeting Maeve—to become his lover Mary Magdalene—while at druid school on the sacred Isle of Mona. Historical novel purists may bang the far wall with the book at the constant, conscious anachronisms, which are a fair part of the book’s charm and easily explained by reincarnation.
For me, however, this is the best book I’ve read in a decade: beautiful, witty, wise, fearless in facing the hardest issues. The poetry on every page is all we’ve ever imagined of bards who could reportedly turn the tide. The magic is visceral and as earthy as roasted hazelnuts. Cunningham has written Celtic circles around Marion Zimmer Bradley.