Book Reviews
Magick in the West End: Kala Trobe
16th Mar 2010Posted in: Book Reviews Comments Off on Magick in the West End: Kala Trobe
Magick in the West End: Kala Trobe

Magick in the West End is Kala Trobe’s follow-up to The Magick Bookshop, in which she introduces us to some of the extraordinary staff and clientele at Mr Malynowsky’s antiquarian occult establishment in Oxford. (See The Magick Bookshop review.) And like the first book, Kala herself is both the heroine and primary human link in the chain that holds these seven stories together.

Magick in the West End shifts the action to London, where Kala has exchanged her position as bookstore manager to read Tarot on a dais in the window of Malynowsky’s Central (specialist in Ancient Cultures and Their Religions, and located between theatreland and Soho), and describes the occult adventures of both Kala and some of the staff and clientele.

As I mentioned in the review for The Magick Bookshop, the presence of the author lends a strange effect to what is designated fiction – at least in the publishers’ disclaimer on the title verso page – and this odd effect is reinforced by a bravery that at times seems almost reckless. One story has Kala expressing what could be called a very non PC attitude, followed by her addressing the reader directly with:

(And before some plonker accuses me on the Internet or in a review of being rascist, please note that this is [a] a tale [b] of misanthropy.)

Ha! (NB. The Ha! is mine…)

There’s no denying that the author knows her subject/s inside out – I had to rush to the computer and google at least half a dozen times throughout the book to access the different references – magickal, literary, biblical, artistic and mythological, although hand-on-heart I’d say that I’m pretty well-versed in all of these. And, as before, the writing itself is both good and more than good, although there’s a patchiness and inconsistency that lends it a quirkiness that seems peculiar to its author. Passages of poetic prose alternate with others that seem slightly chick-litty, even teenaged in tone, and there’s a distinctly teachy feel to some of the information imparted – admittedly mostly though the mouths of characters other than the author – who has written and published several non-fiction books in the magickal traditions .

But… as before, and odd as it seems at times, I like that quirkiness, which feels refreshingly original. Here is a woman unafraid to be herself on the printed page, and whether these stories are actually rooted in some sort of reality or not, I really enjoyed them and that aspect of them. The answer is there though, between the pages and in Kala’s own words: Who knows where truth and fiction meet? We write our own realities daily.

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