At this year’s Spring Mysteries Festival, I met a very interesting woman, Katje van Loon. Technically, I had met her before, but I had the opportunity to work with her and get to know her a bit better at SMF. She had a book for sale in the Merchant’s Hall, though I didn’t get it then. She had a special deal on Beltane on the Kindle version, though, so I snatched it up then.
Bellica is a Pagan fantasy novel that challenges gender roles and sexuality. The rulers and leaders in Athering are women, including military leaders. They honor the Goddesses Juno, Aradia, Kore, and Muerta, among many others. It is a novel of love, fear, choices and personal responsibility.
I read through it much more quickly than I expected to, and it left me wanting more.
While the way in which gender terms were used caught me off guard at first – husband is the female partner, and wife is the male partner, regardless of whether the partners are mixed-gender or same sex couples – it didn’t take long to enjoy the challenge to our society’s notions of what is right and proper. I never did really figure out how time works in this world, but it was a minor concern.
Katje’s character development is fantastic. She feeds details about the characters (and there are a lot of them, but don’t let that intimidate you!) in just large enough doses to keep you on your toes. Just when you think you know one of the characters…some new piece of information is released that changes what you thought you knew.