Book Review of Shadows: The Essential Guide to Practical Astrology by April Elliot Kent


essential-guide“A down-to-earth guide about the message of the stars. 
For astrology to be useful there’s no need to have a crystal ball, incense, meditation, or faith. Learn the practical language of astrology in this clear, easy-to-understand exploration that goes way beyond daily horoscopes and zodiac. With it, the reader will be able to calculate and read their own and others’ birth charts; tell signs and planets from houses; create daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planners- even make predictions for the future. With a glossary and further resources, this guide explores:
– Why horoscopes and descriptions of “sun signs” are usually wrong.
– Why many astrologers use the “wrong” zodiac.
– The several different houses system.
– All the planetary aspects that go beyond the sun and moon.
– The many cycles that determine an astrological forecast.” –


Astrology can be… a lot… to start exploring. It can seem dauntingly mathy, full of coincidence, and don’t even get me started on all the different systems of astrology. Not to mention how many books and classes and videos about astrology there are out there. When I chose astrology for the theme in January for the Witch n’ Bitch, it took me 2 weeks to track down a book that was current, in-depth, good for beginners, and had a bit of a sense of humour. (essential!) I went with The Essential Guide for Practical Astrology because it fit that bill and the author, April Elliot Kent, maintains an awesome astrology website called Big Sky Astrology that gives very specific info about weekly astrological transits and all sorts of other really great astro-info. Plus it’s like, one of the most aesthetically pleasing websites ever. (PLUS PLUS she does readings by phone or skype and will even consult with aspiring professional astrologers!)

If you’re interested in learning astrology – especially learning how to read a birth chart – this book is an awesome resource. By reading the book in order it taught me how to read everything in my birth chart piece by piece, until I was able to see the big picture. It went over the round shape of the chart, the direction in which to read it, signs, planets, houses, angles and aspects, asteroids, elements and modalities. If you’ve ever read a word in an astrology book you didn’t understand, you could find the definition in this book.

I read the Kindle version – mostly because I’d just gotten my phone screen fixed and was aching to give it a whirl- and loved how easy it was to highlight just the bits that applied to my chart specifically to go over after. I also liked being able to search and jump around to different chapters for reference. By the end of January I was pulling up Kindle and searching my questions in the book instead of random internet sources, and was usually able to find the answer I needed. I ordered the paperback for some members of the Witch n’ Bitch and loved the size of the book itself, and how easy it still was to navigate.

This book lost a crystal ball for 2 reasons that might be specific to me. As a visual person, the lack of diagrams in the book drove me NUTS. When she was explaining different angles and directions, I would have loved a sample chart with clear indications. The chapter on aspects was just impossible for me to get into. Ms. Kent used a metaphor of a large family dinner sitting around a round table to explain aspects, and while it was written in a funny way, it just didn’t click with me. I still had to go back and see who was who and what aspect they represented. Like I said, as a visual person this just didn’t click. I would have preferred just a straight up like SEXTILE MEANS THIS AND LOOKS LIKE THIS SEE FIG. 1.

When i first started the book I was fairly ignorant on the House system, and by the end of it the houses were my new favourite thing. The description of my planets and the houses they are in is mind-blowingly accurate in a way that’s lacking just from the planets in signs. In general, I felt like with each successive chapter, I understood more about the chapter before it and where it all fits in. I also had a lot of fun. That scary “mathyness” of astrology I was nervous about was pretty much absent from the book. Instead it was warm, and funny, and very clear.

I absolutely recommend this to people who are learning astrology, especially birth charts! Even if you know nothing beyond your sun sign right now, this book can help you explore the various uses of astrology. In addition to teaching you about your birth chart, Ms. Kent sheds like on using astrology for prediction, planning your days/weeks/months/years, and any astrological term you can imagine. At the end there’s a sample analysis of a chart that I found really interesting (I wish there’d been more of those!). If you read this book beginning to end I guarantee you will have a much greater understanding of astrology, and I can almost guarantee you will FALL INTO MY ASTROLOGY RABBIT HOLE. You can keep me company!

You can find April Elliot Kent at her website Big Sky Astrology, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

She also has a section on her website for learning astrology with video tutorials and downloadable powerpoints and PDFs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s