A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:


Clockwork Gypsy By Jeri Westerson: Review/Giveaway/Halloween Guest Post

IN THE October 24 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andFantasy & Fangs,
andSharon Tucker
SECTIONS

by Sharon Tucker
& Jeri Westerson

This week we have another book perfect for your Halloween reading, Clockwork Gypsy by Jeri Westerson. We also have a Halloween guest post from Jeri. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.

Clockwork Gypsy by Jeri Westerson
Review by Sharon Tucker

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. —W. B. Yeats

I grew fond of Leopold Kazmer, The Great Enchanter, in his first adventure, The Daemon Device (2019), where he battled the encroaching demonic takeover of steampunk Victorian London and won. Of course, he had help, both natural and supernatural, and I hoped that all his cohorts and a few more would return when I learned the second in Jeri Westerson’s Enchanter Chronicles was coming. Little is certain as Clockwork Gypsy (2020) begins. Kazmer, still reverberating with the magic performed in his evening show, heads out into a pea souper of a fog. He’s uneasy; the wrist tattoos that make his spells possible have burned an alert, but as he prepares to defend himself exiting the stage door…Nothing is there.

The plot gains momentum as we re-encounter the adept Special Inspector Mingli Zhao, who I’m glad to say, has come to enlist Kazmer’s talents to investigate the building of a strange railway across England and Scotland as well as much distress among magical creatures—here note Kazmer’s skepticism regarding their existence which surprised me, considering his profession. I’m glad to say we do meet again the cast of the previous novel with the hoped-for additions of other beings and creatures that bring a new urgency with them as well as their perils. Daemon Eurynomos, Prince of Death, is back. He is helpful as ever and has returned with an increased taste for blood but as obliging and civilized as ever, too. Raj, the Tarot reading automaton, comes back and is a favorite as is Inspector Despenser Thacker, rather newly dead and returning as a ghost. It was fun even to see the surly/servile imp Suchah who is useful despite himself. But among the new characters we meet is a malevolent partly mechanized Romani out for Kazmer’s blood.

I think Kazmer intrigues us because he is such a creature of contrasts. Although he daily faces down supernatural creatures, he is shy with Inspector Mingli. He is in thrall to Eurynomos not only for help with his magic but also for the ultimate purpose of finding his father trapped in the netherworld, all the while knowing he will have a grievous price to pay some day for that help. Courage indeed. The rest of the characters who people this adventure have complex, tragic backgrounds as well. But then we know that magic does not come from a happy place—remember what we learned in SyFy’s The Magicians.

These are highly entertaining novels, this second just as much fun as its predecessor, and I look forward to more adventures and fascinating characters in the novels to come.

Sharon Tucker is former faculty at the University of Memphis in Memphis TN, and now enjoys evening supervising in that campus library. Having forsworn TV except for online viewing and her own movies, she reads an average of 3 to 4 books per week and has her first novel—a mystery, of course—well underway.

Demonic Halloween
By Jeri Westerson

People have liked dressing up as various creatures of imagination for a long time, either partly in fear of them, or to appease them. Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced SAA-wn), which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Gaelic people—who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France—believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices, and pay homage to the dead.

Halloween 1965

During some Gaelic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to scare away unwanted ghostly visitors. In later centuries, people began dressing up as ghosts and devils, and in exchange for food and drink, they’d romp about, entertaining the crowds. This custom was called “mumming,” and dates back to the Middle Ages, a precursor of trick-or-treating.

In later centuries, in Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called “guising,” dressing up in costume and going from house to house to receive a bribe of fruit, nuts, or even coins to perform some kind of “trick”—singing, reciting a poem, or something else—replacing the earlier custom of mumming, which later morphed into the “trick-or-treating” we do in the United States.

One of the other symbols of this time is the Devil, or any old demon will do. After all, all sorts of hobgoblins were afoot after dark, doing their mischief, souring the milk, tangling our hair while we slept.

Jeri Westerson

And then, of course, because we are talking about All Hallows Eve, or Hallowed (Holy) Evening and referring to the dead, whose spirit finds it a pleasant time to go wandering, there is the image of the ghost and the skeleton.

Perhaps it was demons who enthralled me the most. Here is a picture of my five-year-old self who favored dressing up for Halloween—for years—as the Devil (and those who knew me when, tell me it was apt).

So it’s an easy leap in my latest gas-lamp fantasy/steampunk novel, Clockwork Gypsy (releasing on Halloween), that I have demons play an important role. Only this time it’s “daemons”—the helpful kind as opposed to “demons,” the decidedly unhelpful kind. My Jewish/Romani magician, Leopold Kazsmer, the Great Enchanter, finds himself mixed up in supernatural crimes he often helps Scotland Yard to solve, using the dangerous art of summoning Jewish daemons to perform real magic.

I have plucked my own version of daemons and demons from the rich tapestry of lore about the supernatural. The lore starts, naturally enough, in Genesis, though you have to go to the Talmud—a compendium of essays and arguments about what every part of the Old Testament means—that explains the emergence of demons and tries to argue that God could not have created such evil.

The Talmud describes that demons were created at the twilight of the sixth day and put the blame on the sin of Adam and Eve. Other traditions blame it on fallen angels or the offspring of humans and fallen angels. Still other traditions put the blame on Lilith (the real first woman rejected by Adam—he seems picky for the only guy on the planet) and Lilith then uses sex with other men (where did they come from?) to produce demons.

Now these demon fellows wreak havoc and plague humans with all sorts of evil, from simple temptations to complicated and unpleasant shenanigans, including possessing the body.

But the daemons I concentrate on for my fictional purposes come from the Greek idea of benevolent nature spirits. They are lesser deities or even a guiding spirit. It is the Latinized form for the Ancient Greek and Indo-European word “daimon,” meaning “godlike.” You can see how this sort of creature pitted against the Judeo-Christian nemesis can make for interesting drama. And an interesting take for one’s own lore.

To enter to win an ebook copy of Clockwork Gypsy, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “clockwork,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 31, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week!

You can use this link to purchase these book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Los Angeles native Jeri Westerson is the author of historical novels and fourteen Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, a series nominated for thirteen national awards from the Agatha to the Shamus. Jeri also writes the Enchanter Chronicles, a gas-lamp fantasy/steampunk mystery series, the latest of which is Clockwork Gypsy and releases, appropriately enough, on Halloween. Both The Daemon Device and Clockwork Gypsy ebooks are 99 cents! See her other books—medieval mysteries, historical fiction, paranormal books, and an LGBT mystery series—at JeriWesterson.com.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davis October 24, 2020 at 3:53pm

Interesting take on demons. Count me in!

Reply

2 Jeri Westerson
Twitter: @jeriwesterson
October 25, 2020 at 11:41am

Enjoy, Glen!

Reply

3 Sherry Brown October 24, 2020 at 7:46pm

Thank you for the chance to win “Clockwork Gypsy”!
I love the book cover!!!!

Reply

4 Jeri Westerson
Twitter: @jeriwesterson
October 25, 2020 at 11:42am

Enjoy, Sherry! Yeah, my cover artist is awesome!

Reply

5 Mary Holshouser October 29, 2020 at 8:35am

Not the type of book I usually read
but would like to try it. Need to
broaden my reading tastes.
thanks.
txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

6 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
November 1, 2020 at 9:05am

We have a winner!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales