Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Leg...
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I was given a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review of this independently published work.
This comprehensive and exhaustively researched book on Bulgarian myths, legends and folklore is a handcrafted labor of love. Organized around the calendar year, the book works its way through the seasons and festivals of each year and shares with the reader the blended pagan and Christian roots of each festival and custom. Using the device of a local family experiencing and learning about each custom, the book also shares local recipes, traditional clothing, tragic love stories and funny bits of folklore with the reader. “Did you know?” inserts share such useful information as the correct wood for driving through the hearts of vampires, the days you really don’t want to die because you will turn into a vampire and other snatches of folk wisdom. Delicate pencil drawings in vibrant colors and ornate designs illustrated nearly every page of the book.
Opening the book was like entering a riotous colorful bazaar of information, all about Bulgarian folklore and myths, going back to the times of the Thracians. The authors deny any claims to scholarly accuracy or academic methods, but the careful and thorough research they did is obvious. They list in the back of the book several pages of links to additional information. I had to chuckle at the line mentioning that the links functioned at the time they did their research, noting that they share with the U.S. Supreme Court the problem of managing “link rot.”
I found the classification as fiction confusing, as this is very much a non-fiction book comprehensively listing and explaining myths, legends and folklore. The authors used the device of a fictional family to illustrate the different customs, but they were clearly embedded in a non-fictional book. For any researcher interested in Bulgarian culture and folklore, this book should be a first step. I was glad to discover the subtitle “Bulgarian Myths, Legends and Folklore” on Amazon when I went to check out the book there, as my free version had only the not-very-descriptive Light Love Rituals title and I worried about discoverability for the book without a clear hook to Bulgarian folklore and culture.
The writing itself was clean and well-edited, and obvious care had been taken in the formatting, with words of the text carefully framing the images and special note sections. The fictional family sections were sometimes a bit stilted, in the way that an “exposition dump” in a novel can feel forced rather than natural, but for the most part, the writing was fluid and had a joyous, light and often humorous tone that was a pleasure to read. There was a home-made quality to some formatting choices, like the insertion of calendar pages to show festival days, but never was there sloppiness or lazy editing.
The recipes for traditional foods looked mouth-watering, with photos of key steps and final presentation to illustrate each recipe.
Review: for travelers, students, mythology and folklore fans who are interested in Bulgarian/Thracian folklore and culture, this is a terrific resource. This book is also a vibrant, joyous example of the wonderful, creative niche offerings from passionate authors that can come into the world through independent publishing, works that would otherwise never make it past gate-keepers looking for the big market opportunity. I had minor issues with a few formatting and writing choices, but overall found the book to be carefully and lovingly crafted, with a vast wealth of interesting information to share.