A while back, I wrote about Dion Fortune’s novels for the Visionary Fiction Alliance.* At the end of that three-part blog, I said that she had written other novels under another pseudonym and that I would let you all know if I discovered them.
Paul Blakey of Twin Eagles Publishing has done just that and brought out the first of her four “romantic thrillers,” The Yellow Shadow. He promises the next three are on their way: The Scarred Wrists, Beloved of Ishmael, and Hunters of Humans.
Dion Fortune is a woman of several names. Dion Fortune is her magical name created this name from her family motto Deo Non Fortuna, ‘God not luck’. She was born Violet Mary Firth and writes these novels as V.M. Steele. The short introduction to the novel says this “combines the names Violet and Mary with Steele (as a node to the source of the family’s fortune).”
The Yellow Shadow is the story of a young woman, Stella Morris, whose father has died and who now will go to live with relatives in China. Used to conversation with her father’s older academic friends, she brings this same frankness to her conversation with a man traveling on the same ship she is on whom she assumes to be an older man. But at the end of this conversation, he reveals himself to be Chinese—just slightly older than she is.
Stella pushes aside British prejudices and forms a friendship with him, but at first he snubs her on the boat, much to her chagrin. Later, though, he rescues her from her loud and hot room, sets her up in a suite, and proceeds to befriend her in the evenings (properly, of course). He cautions her that their friendship must remain secret, it would seem because of this prejudice. But there is a bit more to it. This mysterious man is quite rich and a well-known business man. He doesn’t want to ruin her reputation or his own.
Once set up with her vacuous family in China, Stella gets to know Mr. Li through a series of happy accidents when her family realizes she speaks Chinese. They have not deigned to learn the language after living in the country a good number of years. They send her to bargain with an antique dealer. Because she knows Chinese manners as well as the language, having been taught by Mr. Li, she wins his admiration and gradually gains her independence from her rude and shallow family, finally finding a way to pursue her romance with Mr. Li.
Richard Brzustowicz has written an Afterword in which he gives some excellent historical background and discusses the similarity between this female character and the ones in The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic, who bring their magnetism to enliven a man who has been enervated by society, restoring him to his vitality. He points out that even the character’s name has magical implications: “Just as the Virgin Mary is associated with the sea (and the name Stella Morris is clearly reminiscent of one of the titles of the Virgin Mary, ‘Stella Maris’, Star of the sea) so is Kuan Yin” (198).
You’ll most likely enjoy this novel. You might bump your nose up against some of the frank language about race which seems dated now, but do remember that in The Magical Battle of Britain, Fortune argues that the new age coming after WWII will blast down the prejudices of the old, effete leadership of Britain and predicts an egalitarian global society for the Age of Aquarius. This novel shows some blasting away of those racial and class barriers.
Click to order a copy of The Yellow Shadow. Paul says the $10 price is a special offer, due to rise once we arrive at the summer solstice (and the release of her next book, The Scarred Wrists). I can’t wait to read the next one. Twin Eagles Publishing will use the proceeds from this novel to pay the cost of the British Library copying the others that are in their collection.
*If you want to read more about her novels, my blogs on her visionary fiction can be found at the Visionary Fiction Alliance website here: The first was on her better known novels Moon Magic and The Sea Priestess. The second considered The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, and the third her lesser known novels The Demon Lover, The Winged Bull, and The Goat Foot God.