The occult is strictly defined as “supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena.” The word comes to us from a Latin word meaning “hidden from view, covered up, concealed.” For some reason, though, the word has taken on a darker overtone–you can talk of magic all you want without being accused of anything nefarious. As soon as you talk “the occult” people are convinced you’re into dark magic.
All of that, though, is beside the point: In the Red Slaves series, Anne starts out convinced there is no magic in the world. And even through the transitions she experiences in book 2, she clings tenaciously to the idea that things should be explainable. Or reproduce-able.
The legitimately dark, occult magic of the Communists’ entrapment of the Russian dragons, does not play out on the pages directly, but any time you have a strict rationalist confronted with the inexplicable, you have a recipe for Very Interesting Times–in the mode of Chinese curses.
For those of you waiting, those interesting times now include the possibility of the paperback version. I hope all this supplemental material is helping convince you the story is worth reading in its entirety. 🙂