Sunday, May 16, 2021
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Brenda Gates Smith: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess

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Author: Brenda Gates Smith
Title: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Signet Book
Rated: * * * * *

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As historical fiction, like many in the genre, this book I am sure has and will face severe criticism by those who feel it should be historically accurate since it is based on history at all. However, as fiction it is not required to follow history exact. Thus when certain aspects of the story such as general clothing and appearances may seem a bit romaticized those readers will become elitist and act as though the 'polish' is not warranted. However, I think any good storyteller will always polish over a story to keep the reader interested rather than repulsed especially when you are dealing with a history when in all accurate accounts the people were often very dirty and unkempt. With that aside I found this novel read like a very good fantasy novel with an exchange of magic for ancient cultic ritualism. The story takes place in pre-historic Turkey where cultures were still very tribal and ancient gods were worshipped. The main setting takes us to three main cultures in which two are goddess cults and the third is an ancient sun god cult. Brenda Gates does seem to have actually put some study into the history she writes about and current research highly suggests that matriarchal cultures did exist and were prevalent in ancient times. The story begins about a woman, Yana, who bears a child with a mild deformity and is thus exiled from her homeland in which she never truly felt a sense of belonging. Plaqued by the deceit and disrespect of others her story takes us through her personal life trials and tribulation until she eventually finds a place she can call home. Once she meets with those of a second tribe the story also leads us to follow a second character whom is abducted and forced to live a much harsher life to eventually come home. Basically this book is about descents into 'darkness', life trials, and returning. However, there is much interplay among gods and goddesses especially with the account of the second woman, Henne. I will not give away too much of the story as I think it would ruin it for anyone who wants to read this novel but I will say that what I thought would probably be a 'soft' fiction with undeveloped characters and weak storylines has pleasantly surprised me with the excellent story plots, intertwining of character relationships, and even some excellent representations of Goddess Spirituality perspectives. This book is very much about the 'little deaths' that we experience that make us stronger. While there is much that will obviously appeal to women due to the matriarchal perspectives and women's issues focus, I think this is also an excellent adventure novel that men will love and appreciate as well. There is even just enough spiritual insight in this book that you will want your kids to read it especially if you are raising them pagan. Brenda has done an excellent job with this debut release and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.

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