Waking the Moon was a co-winner of the 1996 James Tiptree, Jr., Memorial Award, and won the (1995 or 1996?) Mythopoeic Award.
Independent, hopefully unbiased summary: Waking the Moon tells of the rebirth of a blood cult in the late twentieth century. For millenia, a secretive patriarchal organization called the Benandanti have been desperately fighting the feminist traditions. Large parts of the story are told in the first person by Sweeney, who begins the story as a naive freshman attending the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine. She is befriended by a doomed eccentric named Oliver, who introduces her to Angelica Furiano. Over the next twenty years, Angelica founds the cult of Othiym, and becomes the physical incarnation of the Goddess. Many are sacrificed in her struggle with the Benandanti for control of the metaphysics of the world. An incredible amount of research went into the writing of the story, which contrasts current issues in feminism with the history of the ancient goddess cults. Elizabeth Hand presents feminism in a manner that never really distinguishes between good and evil, and which questions some of the basic premises of modern feminism. -- highly recommended, CS, 6/24/96
Somewhat biased review and discussion: The story is very gothic, the language is quite elegant, and the sense of place and mood is stunning. While the characters start out as somewhat unbelievable eccentrics, their human side develops as the story progresses. Particularly in the case of Sweeney, it is difficult not to care deeply about them by the climax of the tale. It is one of the best stories I've read in years - it made me rethink many of my attitudes about feminism. -- CS, 6/24/96
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updated 06/13/07 .