A great good evening to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, DON’T PANIC! Yes, the LIBRARY is closed, but there are still lots of things to read online.
The cover art, and an Amazon Associates link. Click it, buy something, and I get a referral fee.
Zoe O’Brien, Ph.D., is a relatively new hire in the history department at Summerfield College, a smallish liberal arts institution located in metro Philadelphia. As such, she has the standard concerns of junior faculty everywhere: committee assignments (boring, tedious); teaching freshman level survey courses (boring, tedious); cranking out research papers (varies); living without tenure (moderately terrifying, in a diffuse sense); no romantic life (although that one guy is cute); caring for two obnoxious and demanding (but I am redundant) cats; hallucinating squirrel behavior (disturbing).
If only she didn’t have obligations! She could just leave, or check into an asylum, or something. However, she had not been able to resist buying a house near the school; thus, she is tied down. A bit. So, she resists engaging the squirrels, and she DEFINITELY resists talking to her colleagues about it.
Zoe is not ignorant of strange events (and she is no stranger to ignorant events), at least not of historical strange events. Her concentration in Medieval European history gave her a strong foundation in the types of behaviors termed magical, as well as the reaction of surrounding societies. However, scholarly skepticism and a modern view of Life, The Universe, and Everything gave her confidence that what one age termed "witchcraft" was simply…something else. Her confidence already shaken by what she THINKS she saw, she is further challenged by the conviction of her closest friend Mark, and his husband David, that just because the belief is medieval, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
This is unbelievable! NONE of the squirrels I have experience with have EVER shown consideration for office hours!
I’m not going to tell you that her cats talk to her that evening, but her cats talk to her that evening.
(No, she doesn’t do that. This story has no shotguns.)
Even those who haven’t spent much time in the ivory towers can find much to appreciate about this tale of an intelligent young prof, confronted by the impossible. Her conversations with her cats alone make it worth the read. Add in wicked witches, winos, wise wizards, and a whining woman-parent, and the alliteration will take you home.
Peace be on your household.