As the emotional and psychological tensions crackle and ignite against each other, it's like watching a slow-motion train crash of the conflicting personalities, desires, jealousies and hurts. If you like your drama filled with psychological suspense, with a hint of the paranormal, then you won't be disappointed. I'm pleased to see there's a sequel, "A Passionate Spirit".
Right from the start the reader knows that something is not right. There is a lovely feel of mystery in this book and SC Skillman does a great job of setting the scene for Juliet to stumble into something weird. I was engaged by the mysterious beginning and intrigued to discover what was going to happen to our apprehensive heroine. Clues are laid for the reader to pick up on throughout. Lots of questions are initially raised to amplify the atmosphere of unease: Nor did she trust the word freedom, until she knew how he defined it.
How did Zoe get caught up in this? There are lots of references to British culture, which places the action neatly in England without going into long drawn out explanations, which gains a big tick from me. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the old house Juliet goes to. With its oak beams, low ceilings and wainscoting.
When Juliet finally meets her sister, we see that Zoe, is utterly caught up in the cult way of life, and Juliet is obviously concerned. I thought it was a good idea to have the main character as a journalist, this way the author can show how she uncovers the truth and learns the reality of this seemingly wonderful and spiritual group. We are left with people telling Juliet about him, which heighten the mystery and drama. SC is quite skilful in keeping up tension and mystery, so drawing the reader in.
However, because there are quite a few characters, I felt that they became a little samey, except for the sinister parrot, Groucho — I liked him. Craig is described well and comes across as manipulative and scary. He has special Shaman powers and that gives him superiority over the others. Juliet becomes more and more dubious about the merits of the group and the credibility of Craig as its leader. I did want the pace to pick up a bit and found myself skipping a few sentences here and there just to see if the action would kick in.
Sometimes the point was laboured too much.
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We know — because we are constantly being told — that Craig is manipulative and has powers over people. The author could maybe edit, some scenes and lose a few of the rather samey revelations in order to bring some pace to a story that flags somewhat in the middle. The narrative as a whole was dialogue heavy, which made it feel like a radio play at times. Not a criticism as such, I just felt that there could have been more actual prose with a little more action on occasions, to cut into the long passages of exposition brought to us via conversation.
Some of the dialogue went on for too long, the introductions at dinner being an example of this. I wanted the pace to pick up a bit after Juliet meets Craig, but there was yet another chapter of people talking about themselves, rather than the reader seeing them react to events that occur around them. There are lots of spoken confessions and too few actual scenes of action showing people living what they describe. I got a bit fed up towards the end.
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Too much foreshadowing and not enough actual action left me wanting to skip yet another mealtime disclosure. I wanted the author to cut to the chase and get on with it.
And amongst it all, the inevitable love triangle and disappointingly, an all too happy ending that negated the promise of the earlier mystery and suspense. Still on the whole a good read that could benefit from cutting back a little. I won this book through the Good Reads first reads program.
Mystic Circle - Wikipedia
Mystical Circles tells the story of Juliet, who's sister Zoe has fallen for a man named Craig. This would be wonderful, were it not for the fact that Craig is the leader of a New Age community called Mystical Circles. He's a modern day guru preaching a renewed version of Don Juan's idea that we drop our old self in order to become a new one. Forget our past, embrace the future So, Juliet goes to the cult in the Cotswolds to do a I won this book through the Good Reads first reads program. So, Juliet goes to the cult in the Cotswolds to do a documentary about the movement. Also, to collect Zoe.
But oh, there are dark secrets Dark secrets in a New Age Movement? Violence, intrigue, fallen priests, and tortured artists. Oh, all of this is right up my alley and I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately, the love story kind of ruined it for me. I felt that the feelings for Craig were unnatural, Craig not really inviting the feelings he should have. Likewise, Don didn't seem to radiate any attraction and that all seemed rather forced to me.
The writing meandered a little. I just wanted more of it to feel natural, a bit more rhythmical. The emotions, again, seemed to get in the way of the action for me. A revision of the book could make it truly grand, but for now, it just didn't really do it for me. I wanted a bit more of the book. Still, it did engage me. It did get me reading, and hold my interest. It did make me think about it a bit.
I just came up a bit bored, when I wanted my heart and mind to be racing. Something between an Aga saga, a spiritual novel and a psychological thriller this is an involving, intricate book. A lot of its appeal lies within the varied, fascinating characters who's individual voices weave seamlessly into the novel as a whole and the actions of Juliet, the radio journalist intent on reducing her sister from the 'circle of love' cult, and an admirable heroine. A good, easy read. I highly recommend this book for anyone. Oct 26, Rachel rated it liked it.
I was lucky to win this book on a Goodreads giveaway. As other people have mentioned I found the book quite slow up until about half way through. Although I did quite like the character building and story setting. The complex characters at the retreat are just the kind of people I imagined to be at the kind of place and I quite like the dynamics of the group. One thing that I was a but disappointed with was regarding Don and presumably Craig being from Barnsley.
I am a Barnsley girl and believe I was lucky to win this book on a Goodreads giveaway. I am a Barnsley girl and believe me Don definitely didn't come across as a typical Barnsley chap, businessman or not-maybe it was just the language used by Don, I didn't know but it didn't sit right with me-again that's probably just down to me actually being from Barnsley and it's personal to me.
I only awarded 3 stars as I felt there just wasn't enough excitement in the story-even when there was supposed to be a priest writing a book he thought his Bishop would disagree with, the reason Craig and Don were at loggerheads. Etc I just think I expected more from the ending after all the build up! It was an OK read but I don't think I'll be reading it again.
Telling the story of Juliet, a freelance reporter hoping to sell a documentary about the Wheel of Love, an obscure sect of people living in the Cotswolds Hills of Great Britain, as well as potentially save her younger sister Zoe, the newest member from falling into the clutches of the man who leads this group, Mystical Circles at once both delivers and confounds.
Mystical Circles was an intriguing read. Skillman has a keen eye and understanding of the dynamics that push and pull people apart as w Telling the story of Juliet, a freelance reporter hoping to sell a documentary about the Wheel of Love, an obscure sect of people living in the Cotswolds Hills of Great Britain, as well as potentially save her younger sister Zoe, the newest member from falling into the clutches of the man who leads this group, Mystical Circles at once both delivers and confounds. Skillman has a keen eye and understanding of the dynamics that push and pull people apart as well as the psychology behind those dynamics.
The insight is so keen and the writing so well-done that unfortunately the characters in the book are compelling while being frustratingly obscure. Skillman delivers details about the crew living and functioning at the Wheel of Love with just enough love and finesse to paint a constant yearning to know infinitely more about each person occupying a place within this retreat from the world.
While unable to fully know each character I found this obscurity to be quite true to life in actually getting to know someone. How much do we really ever get to know someone? As Craig, the leader of The Wheel of Love and an incredibly intense Idealist entrenched in his own ideals to the exclusion of the outside world and in direct contrast to his teachings to his people , makes it a point to tell Juliet: This may be the most apt comment to describe this book.
The love story element for Juliet is so low-key that it often becomes lost in the turbulence between the other characters. Truthfully what drew me in to the reading was a personal connection with Juliet, being the elder sister who worries about her younger sister in taking up with Craig and this band of misfit characters all belonging to the Wheel of Love. Having had a similar experience in seeing my younger sister take up with a religious group whose tenets I understood only peripherally, I too went to visit and stay a few days with her although this was in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York as opposed to the picturesque and ancient Cotswolds to try and gain better understanding if not try and bring her away from such cultural, religious differences.
Her experience with the Wheel of Love changes her, although to the better is left up to the reader. These are struggles I easily relate to also in being intensely idealistic and understanding abstract concepts the likes of which are explored in this book. Having finished the reading days before writing this review I am still puzzling and mulling over the cast of characters, complete with their many flaws and eventual personal resolutions, which Skillman brings to the page.
Filled with keen insights into human psychology and built upon the subtle foundations of spiritual insights that we all want to intellectualize and glorify for it, Mystical Circles was, for the most part, an enjoyable read, thereby netting it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
I deducted only one star from the full 10 rating only due to the slow-pacing and somewhat convoluted plot. I found few, if any, editing misses that detracted from the reading. Nov 10, Alison rated it liked it. The characters were well drawn and the plot was interesting. I would have liked a little more emphasis on Zoe who was the character who we knew least about although she was the reason for Juliet's visit.
Nov 30, Jasmine rated it did not like it. I didn't actually read it all only 84 pages but it was quite dull and not written very well: I think the plot sounds good but all the characters were a bit confusing and the storyline slow. Apr 10, L. Article first published as Book Review: Julie uses her work as a freelance investigative journalist to worm her way into asking questions. What she finds when she reach Article first published as Book Review: What she finds when she reaches the ranch is anything but normal, and as she delves in she meets and oddly charismatic and dysfunctional group of people.
Besides the unusual characters a type of bedlam seems to exist, a kind of do anything attitude. The leader Craig is nothing like she imagined and she is drawn to him in an unexplainable way. Due to the nature of the problems of those living in the commune, the ranch is close to bankruptcy. There are strange things happening in the commune, and when a priest shows up it further traumatizes the group.
Each of them has an unusual reason for being here, and there appears to be no real rules. When one of the attendees begins to lose control and attacks others, Juliet expects police involvement. When this does not occur, she is incredulous, and yet finds herself going along with the reasoning. When attacked herself, she no longer believes the cause.
What is happening and why? This loving and freedom-believing cult while wonderful on the surface is a cauldron of deceit and depravity on the inside. Can she help to find the problems? Is Craig the wonderful guy she thinks, and what is it about his father that seems to now attract her? In Mystical Circles, S. Skillman introduces you to an eclectic and slightly damaged group of characters. Skillman does a great job of portraying the damaged psyche in most cases and you can visualize the characters to a great degree.
Many of the flaws are quite harmless and you find yourself drawn to the individuals, hoping the unusual treatment will be the answer, the redeeming feature for them to be able to gain normalcy. Yet there are those others, just severe enough that keep the tension high and keep the group on edge. Don seems to be the only normal person there, and Juliet finds him to be a great sounding board through the times she spends with them. His relationship with his son however is anything but normal. She is constantly asked to take sides, yet she remains neutral. She is here for a story, and yet she does find herself pulled in to the strangeness.
Juliet on the surface seems to be very sharp and begins her investigation with thought and care. And yet she consistently says the wrong thing setting off different chain reactions the reverberate throughout the commune. She is a catalyst for many of the choices and often seems to put her foot in her mouth when trying to get information from the different members. Her strength seems to change towards the end when she struggles with her own attractions. She seems to lose that edge and her boundaries appear to blur.
Can she help to save this commune, or is it just another mistake, a place for people to hide from real-life with no redeeming qualities. Can she leave after all she has witnessed? This is an unusual read, one with an interesting cast of characters, and a string of unusual happenings. It moves along at a quick pace, and keeps you interested in what may occur next. This is not your usual thriller and yet it keeps you in suspense. It is more of a mystery of the workings of a disparate group of people.
It deals with how relationships are formed and how the smallest of happenings can shatter lives. Skillman is a deft hand at creating characters. If you are interested in people and their foibles, you will enjoy this book. This book was received as a free book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
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Mystical Circles by SC Skillman is a romantic suspense novel about Juliet, a freelance radio journalist, who fears for her sister Zoe, who has joined a strange group called The Wheel of Love and has fallen head over heels for the leader. While there, Juliet becomes drawn into the secrecy of the group and goes on a mission to uncover the truth. The blurb on Mystical Circles by SC Skillman is a romantic suspense novel about Juliet, a freelance radio journalist, who fears for her sister Zoe, who has joined a strange group called The Wheel of Love and has fallen head over heels for the leader.
She then discovers something sinister about the group and needs to escape.
The participants only take part in two activities during the entire novel, a weird form of meditation, and dream yoga. The characters spend most of their time eating and drinking wine and perusing and arguing with each other. Mystical Circles is a novel of troubled people working out their deep seeded issues and finding love. It realistically portrays everyday life problems like mental illness and entrepreneurs with no business sense. I read to escape reality. About forty percent into the novel, I lost interest.
The book is slow-moving and not a lot of excitement. I had no emotional involvement with the characters. I tried to pin down why. The kindle formatting needs to be redone at the beginning of the novel, the stuff before chapter one. Some page breaks might fix the problem. The beats between character dialog are dry at times and become repetitive, but other than that no major editing problems.
Mystical Circles is filled with a cast of characters that are at times both very large and very strange. And if nothing else, this novel is definitely a character study of those that live on the fringe. Being a New Age group, you can imagine there are a mix of different ideas and different people that come from all walks of life. But Mystical Circles is not just a character study. It is also a thriller with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, career, and sisterly love.
I really enjoyed this book. It felt like it took no time at all to read. The tone of writing was very dark and mysterious.
Yet, the happiness of some characters and way they enjoyed staying cut off from the world, attending strange classes that had them all acting out their internal struggles or desires - it was such a stark contrast that the darkness to it never took over too much and overwhelmed the story. Instead, everything worked so well together. My only complaint is that the plot seemed a little weak. I had wished that the author would have gone for something quite big and dramatic. Instead we have a mix of things that just sort of happen, and eventually through all of those happenings, Juliet gets her answers.
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