Title: True Religion
Author: J.L. Weinberg
Publisher: Chelsea Stations Editions
Main Characters: Seth, Martin, Raven, and a cast of a dozen
Warning: Sexual scenes involving a ten year old minor
“An unexpected encounter with an otherworldly spirit at a holiday party in the Orenda Valley, sends Seth Davis, a gay journalist from Manhattan, on a profound religious journey. Along the way, Seth stumbles into a quarreling coven of witches in the charming tourist town of Hope Springs, Pennsylvania, formerly known as Hell’s Ferry, and one of the most haunted destinations in America. As Seth learns more of the remarkable town’s history, he also uncovers his own shocking past, and in order to seek peace for his own troubled soul, he must determine the fate of the coven, the town, and the entire Orenda Valley.” From the back cover of the book.
This was a difficult book to read as it is well over 300 pages, and is not the usual genre of male/male romance novel usually reviewed on this and other like sites.
First, things that I liked: This novel consists of an extensive description of the non-broom flying variety of witches that are far more real in this world than the other kind seen on Halloween. The author either did extensive research or had friends do research to be this exacting in his descriptions. Either that, or the author is in fact a witch; I kid you not.
Jesus Christ makes the occasional appearance as a comparative idea as the main character attempts to construct a more perfect religion. So, if you want a crash course on witch life, this would be the book. It is, I believe based on New Hope, Pennsylvania, and the town in the novel is called, Hope Springs, Pennsylvania. Certain details of the fictional town, match up perfectly with the real town of New Hope. It is certainly colorful and the author brings the imagery of what he describes to life. You can almost hear the rushing of the water, the creaking of the trees, and smell the sulfur when it appears in the story. The author has talent in this area.
What I did not like is that this is not a male/male romance novel. In fact, the boyfriend of the main character dies during the course of the story in the town that has become an obsession for Seth. From that respect, this is not an HEA novel by any stretch of the imagination.
The main character regresses into his past lives and finds he is the ten year old victim of sexual abuse by his own father who plays a part in the modern day of Seth’s world. I’m concerned that there is a little too much detail on the abuse and may violate child pornography standards in some legal jurisdictions and am frankly surprised that a publisher, published this work as is. As a Judicial Officer in real life, I was called on more than once by the police to determine whether or not written and or visual “artistry” violated those standards. While I do not say that this is the case here, I urge caution to those who would purchase this work as it could very well be adjudged as such by local standard. I would highly recommend to the author and publisher that those scenes be amended.
All in all, this book in my opinion, and after all, that is all a review is, but the single opinion of the person reading a book, or viewing an artist’s work is, that the book is too long, too bogged down in Witch details, and totally lacking of any romance in the entire work.
By all means, with the legal caution exception, this would be an entertaining book to those looking for a book about witches and covens.
Reviewed by: Patrick St. James