Monday, November 5, 2018
Book Review: 'Hidden Religion – A Novel' by Sharon Golan
‘I managed to do the impossible.’
Israeli author Sharon Golan is an artist of many disciplines - writing, painting, music, and martial arts. Golan is also fascinated with occult and paranormal sciences, being attracted to the mysterious and hidden aspects of life and in the deepest layers of the human soul. We learn that Golan is ‘a researcher of fascinating cultures and love both philosophy and psychology at their most complex levels. My motto for life: A person must always try to do the impossible to achieve the possible.’
Beginning with the striking cover for this debut novel, Sharon immediately shows a unique approach to spinning a story in the brief opening sectors of his fine book – ‘Magick, spiritual powers, sorcery, enchantment and spells were and still are an inseparable part of our world; a folklore still shrouded in mystery; a culture the effectiveness of whose practices is still questioned. It is an entire doctrine that is still doubted. A discipline of incantations, spells and magick, whose practitioners and masters are called mages or wizards. A folklore that most people see as nothing more than superstition, nothing more than a primitive fantasy that has existed since the dawn of humanity. Magical powers may accompany a person’s life, even though he is not aware of them. Magical powers may pursue a person’s soul, despite the fact that those who lack awareness of these powers will consider them to be mental illness and a lack of a sense of realism. In this story you will find that reality itself has many facets. Reality is called thus because it is real. But what if reality becomes unreal? What if reality turns upside-down, and allows the so-called “unreal” fantasies coexist alongside it? How would you feel if the doctors told you that you had only seven more years to live? How would you accept this bitter news? How would you deal with it? How would you react if a specialist physician claimed that your illness is terminal, that there is no known cure for it yet? That many people have died from the same illness that was discovered in your body? What would happen if every possibility pointed to the fact that you were going to die? You are going to lose everything – your loved ones, your family, your parents, your entire life. You are going to lose your entire world. Seven years is a pretty long time, and one can use these seven years to seek full recovery. But how can one gain full recovery from an incurable illness? Where can one find it? Is it even possible? Is it even possible to be cured from an illness that is considered terminal? Will fighting this terminal illness be, in fact, an act doomed to fail? Would you accept the fact that you were going to die and fearfully await your Doomsday? Or would you try to swim against life’s currents, seeking for yourself the ultimate recovery? The very recovery that may save your life.’
And with that fine preparation Golan condenses the novel’s story – ‘What is stronger? A man’s beliefs or his survival instinct? When the rational gives you a death sentence, the irrational becomes your best friend. When Alnor Loro, a 25-year-old, learns that he has a terminal illness, no amount of brightness of the day can stop his world from falling apart. Desperation and hopelessness force him to make the only decision he believes right – leave everything and everyone he has ever known behind and spend his last years on a long vacation in England. As chance would have it, he won’t be going through this journey alone, after all. Befriending a mysterious girl, who undermines his reasoning, makes him second-guess the actual fatality of his illness and question everything he has ever believed (or has never believed) in. Upon hearing about a special place and a hidden religion that can bring about his full recovery, Alnor is increasingly convinced that this girl is far from sane. Nevertheless, since there is nothing left to lose, Alnor lets curiosity (and hope, perhaps?) get the better of him and finds himself on a spiritual journey during which everything seems to be possible. What is the right way when there is no way? Torn between the world he once knew and the one he is discovering, both firm disbelief and inexplicable faith assail his mind and soul. With the great mental strengths he discovers to have, maybe, just maybe, following instructions of this religion will lead him to a full recovery.’
HIDDEN RELIGION is far more than a fine novel about fantasy and magic and metaphysical phenomena; it is a novel that inspires us to confront impossibilities, discovering that there are not limits. Quality writing from a very welcome new voice. Recommended.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.