Black Witch Moth

A Man's Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny

Fiction - Literary
354 Pages
Reviewed on 05/30/2023
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Author Biography

Michael Curry grew up in Key West, Florida hearing stories from his grandfathers, both of whom knew Ernest Hemingway. His grandfather on his father’s side, was born on Green Turtle Cay, Abaco in the Bahamas and worked at the Key West Citizen, the local daily newspaper. Hemingway would come to the Citizen to check the wire for the day’s news and to discuss news and current events with the newspaper’s owner and editor. It was no small coincidence the newspaper in those days was located on Green Street directly across from Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

Mr. Curry’s grandfather on his mother’s side was born in Palatka, Florida where his father piloted passenger boats up and down the St. Johns River. He was a charter (party) boat captain in Key West and a contemporary of Bra Saunders and Joe Russell. His connection to Hemingway resulted from being around the docks where Saunders, Russell and all of the other party boat captains kept their boats. His recollections included conversations between the captains, the mates and the writer on topics ranging from fishing to politics and the art of making a living from the sea.

Mr. Curry’s grandmother on his father’s side was born in Guanabacoa, Cuba, and spending time with her gave him a unique perspective, as he was growing up, on the connections between Cuba and Key West. Mr. Curry’s great grandparents, grandparents and his parents, were, and are, Conchs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Black Witch Moth: A Man's Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny is a work in the interpersonal drama, spiritual and sociocultural issues subgenres. It is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to some scenes of a sexual nature and the use of explicit language throughout. Penned by C. Michael Curry, the work explores the uncertain future of our protagonist, Julian Valladares, who journeys to Cuba after his father's death. Traveling with three friends, Julian seeks a spiritual meeting with his father in another realm, doing everything he can to secure a sacred ritual to help decide his fate and reconnect him with his purpose on Earth.

Author C Michael Curry explores spiritualism, belief, culture, and human nature in this deeply literary and atmospherically lush novel, and there is undoubtedly a vivid love letter to Cuba throughout the narrative. In addition, I enjoyed the unusual structure of the story, which is split into smaller stories within the book and spans some areas of recent and not-so-recent history to build a fuller picture of the significance of later events in Julian’s life. I also enjoyed the character dynamics and the different relationships that Julian has with each of his three traveling companions. Despite the story centering on a single man and his spiritual quest, everyone else felt realistically developed and fully present in the world that Curry has created. Overall, Black Witch Moth is a highly recommended read to please fans of cultural, travel-based, and intensely character-driven storytelling.

Asher Syed

Black Witch Moth: A Man's Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny by C Michael Curry revolves around painter Julian Valladares and his spiritual journey to Cuba so he might communicate with his deceased father, Ramón. Julian's father was a writer who wrote a well-received novel about his time working as the head of Earnest Hemingway's household, and a Palo Monte priest. Ramón's faith was shared with Julian and formed his understanding of how the veil of the spiritual world can be pierced. Ramón's death leaves Julian in a crisis of biculturalism, wanting to speak to his father, and to reaffirm his Cuban roots. Once in Cuba with his friend Max, he makes known that his purpose in visiting the country isn't so much to engage with the history of Hemingway but participate in a Palo Monte ritual to see his dad again.

“...the Black Witch moth symbolizes the soul seeking truth about itself. The person who sees one, is looking for themselves. They are on a journey to discover who they are.” Author C Michael Curry transported me as a reader to a country I have never seen, and introduced me to a spiritual practice that I had never heard of, and it was a delight to become immersed in both. I even went so far as to try making fried marudos. Ok, that's not quite true but I did order them from a lovely takeaway and enjoyed my first taste of plantains immensely. As a character, Julian is exactly as passionate as one would expect a painter to be and Max acts as sort of a counterbalance to keep Julian grounded. I liked that when Julian opened up about his beliefs we are not fed a simple but unbelievable acceptance by those he talks to about it, but are instead witness to him being met with skepticism. Phoebe and Mera are great examples of mixed responses. The writing can be a little loquacious when it comes to the narrative; however, once we have truly connected with Julian Black Witch Moth is impossible to put down.

Grant Leishman

Black Witch Moth: A Man’s Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny by C Michael Curry is a work of literary fiction that takes readers to the mystical and much-maligned island of Cuba. Julian Valladares is Cuban-born, but he and his family escaped from Cuba after the revolution and sought sanctuary in Florida, along with thousands of other Cuban refugees. An accomplished artist, Julian feels a deep emotional and spiritual connection to the land of his birth and has traveled there as often as regimes and regulations allow. His late father, Ramon, was a practitioner of an ancient mystical religion practiced by the inhabitants of Cuba long before the arrival of the Europeans. As a Palo priest, and as the personal majordomo to the great Ernest Hemingway, he has inspired and influenced much of Julian’s creative enterprises. Julian, his great friend Max, and two Hemingway scholars, Phoebe and Mera, are heading to Havana for a Hemingway Colloquium, but this trip to Cuba will be shrouded in mysticism, spirituality, and an awakening for Julian.

Black Witch Moth is a deeply moving and spiritual insight into one man’s journey as he tries to discover his destiny and reconnect with the spiritualism of his father and his mystical homeland. Author C Michael Curry does an exemplary job of transporting the reader to the buzz, vibrancy, and beauty of Havana, Cuba. Still, even after over sixty years of isolation and deprivation, the people of Cuba are warm, welcoming, with a thirst for music, love, and life. I particularly appreciated that the author took time out of the narrative to educate readers on the realities of life for the ordinary Cuban in a society that struggles to provide even the basics of everyday life. I was also impressed by the Cubans' ability to take the doctrine forced upon them by the principally Catholic invaders and invisibly meld their own beliefs, religions, and iconography into Christian dogma. The relationship between the four friends is an interesting dynamic, as there is a clear sense of sexual tension between Max and Mera, and Phoebe and Julian, so the reader will constantly wonder if this will ultimately work out and how? The author postulates at the end of the tale that if he has made readers want to visit Cuba or meet some of the characters described, then he has achieved his goal. My answer, C Michael Curry, is job well achieved. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it.

Rabia Tanveer

Black Witch Moth: A Man's Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny by C Michael Curry is the story of a man on a spiritual journey. Julian Valladares was a painter struggling to find his footing after his father Ramon passed away. Ramon was Ernest Hemingway’s majordomo for a long time but was a Palo Monte priest before he passed away. With his father gone, Julian was desperate to get in touch with his father one last time as he chased after his Cuban heritage and spirituality. An ancient ritual might help him talk to his father once more, but there was no guarantee that it would work. Julian was ready to take that chance. To help in his quest was his best friend Max, Mira, and Pheobe who packed their bags and brought their Hemingway expertise along. Would he get to speak to his father one last time? Would Julian find his spiritual awakening?

Author C Michael Curry created perfect pictures with his words and made sure he gave a full sensory experience to readers. The story was fantastic but it was the narrative that brought it to life. There was so much going on at times, but it was never overwhelming. Julian was an intriguing character. He was smart, but he was ruled by his emotions most of the time. He was vulnerable and felt terrible anguish with his father gone. Curry not only showed a very vivid image of Cuba but also its culture and its importance in Julian’s life. Spirituality played a very important role in the build-up of the story, but it was vital in Julian’s character development. At first, it felt like he was chasing a dream that may never come true, but things changed for him. I was intrigued from the beginning and wanted to learn more about Cuba, Julian's spiritual journey, and of course, the Palo Monte religion. I would highly recommend this novel!

Pikasho Deka

Black Witch Moth: A Man's Spiritual Journey to Find His Destiny is a story about a grieving man searching for a connection to his recently deceased father. Written by C. Michael Curry, the book follows Julian Valladares, whose father, Ramon, used to work for Ernest Hemingway. Ramon was also a Palo priest, born into a family with a long line of people blessed with the "Gift," an ability to dream and connect with one's ancestors through an ancient Taino ceremony. Julian and his friends, Max Albury, Phoebe Brennan, and Mera Stadler, travel to Havana, Cuba, to attend a Hemingway Colloquium. The four friends soon become entranced with the mesmerizing beauty of their surroundings and immerse themselves in the rich local culture. But Julian has another mission. With the help of a local priestess, he must perform the Areyto ceremony and finally find what he had always been looking for.

Black Witch Moth is a moving story about loss, grief, friendship, and the search for self-discovery set against the backdrop of the beautiful locales of Havana. Author C. Michael Curry's slice-of-life tale is soaked in Taino-African spiritual practices and lore, elegantly showcasing the colorful and vibrant traditions and culture of Cuba and its people. A character-driven drama at its core, the narrative focuses on the emotional turmoil and spiritual yearning within Julian, a writer and an artist who can't help but seek a connection with his father one last time. I particularly enjoyed the conversations between Julian, Max, Mera, and Phoebe. The ending left me a little heartbroken, but overall, this was a riveting read from start to finish. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy literary fiction.