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Two and one half moon gifHearst Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0688172970
Review a feng shui book? Eek! Does our editor realize how dangerous that is? Online communities approach armed combat over the relative merits of the Black Hat vs. compass schools. (Those of you who don't know what that means, read on. This review and, indeed, this book are for you.) Before proceeding, however, I should warn any experts in the audience that I practice the Round-Eyed Barbarian School of feng shui and profess its cardinal tenet: "Whatever you say; I agree with you completely; I still have a lot to learn; and please, don't hurt me."  

Book: Sarah Shurety, Quick Feng ShuiSarah Shurety's Quick Feng Shui Cures targets the beginning or casual student of the subject. She begins with a concise overview of the origin and purpose of feng shui, a brief section on bagua (the division of space into nine sections, rather like a tic-tac-toe square, symbolizing nine aspects of a person's life) and the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal).  

Shurety provides a mercifully brief and remarkably comprehensible section on finding your lucky and unlucky directions, based on your birth date. (Now you can probably guess where the Round-Eyed Barbarian School stands on the compass school too.) The remainder of the book contains a section on each element of the bagua, with specific, practical suggestions for feng shui changes or cures that the reader can use in the various areas.  

The cures Shurety suggests lean heavily toward conventional Chinese feng shui techniques. This makes book a good choice for readers who want to learn about the traditional methods -- and less than optimal for rebels like me who'd like to reap the benefits of feng shui without a heavy investment in oriental bric-a-brac.  

Still, even iconoclastic feng shui practicioners will find this book a useful reference. Should I ever feel the inclination to use some of the more traditional cures mentioned -- such as the dragon-headed turtle, the three-legged toad, the money mouse, or the five extraordinary walnuts -- at least I'll know what to look for on my pilgrimage to Chinatown, thanks to Shurety's profuse, detailed and attractive illustrations.  

Shurety does offer enough unique suggestions to make the book worthwhile. Along with the traditional bamboo flutes and eight-sided mirrors, she also finds uses for Christmas tree lights, radios, and lava lamps. And I particularly enjoyed her suggestions on applying feng shui principles to one's purse and car. 

Overall, while Quick Feng Shui Cures probably wouldn't be my first recommendation for a novice's introduction to the subject, it would do the job capably enough. In addition, for anyone with an interest in the subject, it provides a potentially useful addition to a growing feng shui library. 

Donna Andrews 

Donna Andrews is the author of Murder with Peacocks, which won the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Award in May 1998. Her second book in the Meg and Michael series, Murder with Puffins, will be released this spring.


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