A novel by the Great Beast himself, the “wickedest man in the world”. I’m told it helps a great deal if you have some familiarity with Crowley’s magical system (about which I confess I know very little), but Moonchild is still a surprisingly entertaining read.
It tells the story of a magical operation to secure the influence of the moon on the birth of a child who is to become a great redeemer and spiritual being. The white magicians trying to bring this about find themselves in conflict with black magicians.
Crowley’s prose is witty and wickedly satirical. Most of the characters are portraits (and generally very unflattering ones) of prominent people involved in the occult in the early part of the 20th century, including the poet W. B. Yeats. The story itself gets just a little tedious in places, as Crowley tells us rather more than we really need to know about the mechanics of the operation. If you’re more interested in the mechanics of magick than I am, though, you probably wouldn’t find it tedious at all.
The style was pleasing enough to keep me reading to the end, and overall I found it entertaining. The novel was in fact written as an attempt by Crowley to disseminate his magical theories to a wider audience. It was written in 1917 but not published until 1929. For those who are interested in Crowley (who was certainly an extraordinary character), or the history of magic in modern times, it’s essential reading.