The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley by Ian Thornton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This one is a fairly hard book to review because I've been fascinated by Crowley in the past. I mean, did you know that his visage graces the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? That the man was the original sensationalist, welcoming all kinds of defamation and horror story for the sake of building up a legend, right or wrong? That he was the original flower child, a bold climber of Everest, a thumber-of-noses at all kinds of hypocrisy, and he believed in rebellion with a capital R?
I liked him. Who cares if he called himself The Beast and signed with 666? Or that he was called a satanist for most of his life? I played D&D as a child. Back in those days, Parent Teacher Associations used to burn books and say that my gamebooks were written by the devil. *rolls eyes so hard that they pop out of his grinning skull*
If my mild storytelling sessions were that evil, I had to see what else the "world" is lying about.
This book on Crowley DOES have a ton of historical fact about Crowley, but it is conflated with a ton as well. He may or may not have been a British Secret agent, but this book definitely goes all into that. And I DO like all the Rebellion stuff. A lot. The sixties were Crowley's time, after all, having blazoned the way for several generations of people who are sick of the lies and just want to revel in truth, pleasure, and kindness.
Kindness? Crowley? Well, let's put it the way he puts it. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." Love? Love? Hello! That sure sounds evil. lol
So WHAT ABOUT THIS BOOK? Why do I only give it 3 stars? Because... it focuses on spycraft and faking his death and his childhood. It's okay. It's FINE. But it's also meandering and directionless until we get to the whole revolution stuff later. And what I really wanted was either a full-out magical extravaganza a-la the best Fantasy novels of our time... or a tight thematic homage to the core principles of what Crowley taught. Or both! We can add some spycraft later, I suppose, but Crowley doing his best to out-do Marilyn Manson before Marilyn Manson is PLENTY interesting all on its own without turning him into a super-hero.
Maybe that's just me.
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