Tuesday, July 1, 2008

War of the Witches

by Maite Carranza
Bloomsbury
Reviewed by Melissa

Oh, how do I write how terrible this was?

Was it the translation? I'm always suspicious of translated books; perhaps I'm not getting all the nuances that would be there in the original language. Perhaps the author originally intended something different, and the translator, not being privy to the author's full intentions, wasn't able to fully capture all that the author wrote. The again, maybe it's just a bad translation of a mediocre book.

Was it the plot? Anaid is a 14-year-old girl, seemingly normal (if a bit smart....that's the way it was portrayed, like smart was a bad thing), with nothing going on with her life (except for a desire to go to the popular girl's parties) until one day her mother up and disappears. Turns out that Anaid is a witch, part of the wolf clan of the Omar tribe (go with me here). Her mother is believed to be the Chosen One, the one who will stop the war between the Omar and their sister-enemies the Odish, who are vile, greedy, blood-sucking (but not vampires!) witches. Anaid loves and misses her mother, and becomes obsessed with finding her. Which she does. The end.

Was it the wooden characters? the stilted dialogue? the choppy prose? Possibly. Everything about this book grated on me. I thought, at first, that it was an intriguing premise: two clans of witches duking it out for the right to rule the world. It had feminist undertones -- well, actually they were pretty blatant -- women control, women rule, women have the power. (Go womyn!) But even with that, and even the premise was terribly underdeveloped, it's really problem was that it just didn't flow. I felt like I was constantly starting and stopping; that as soon as I felt like the plot was picking up, and things were headed toward an interesting climax, the plot would grind to a halt, jump of the track and head in a completely different direction. Perhaps that was intentional; by the end you realize that there was a lot of misdirection going on. But, there are eloquent and captivating (if odd) ways to do misdirection (Neil Gagman's American Gods comes to mind) that don't leave the reader completely flummoxed and frustrated. Or, if they do, there's still the incentive to go on.

On top of the choppy plot, there was absolutely no character development. The characters -- and there were too many of them to keep track of -- were going through the paces. Do this, get distracted, do that, oh and by the way, this is happening too. There was no character development, no motivations, no tension, and while there was conflict, (what could be worse than conflict without tension?) there was no reason to care about the conflict. Plus, the action scenes themselves were dull and uninteresting.

I suppose there's a segment of the population that will really like this book -- teenage girls looking for their inner witch, perhaps. But that's a small audience, which is probably good. That way the book won't bother the rest of us.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was a wounderful book!! I would recemend it to anyoen with a sense for mystery and adventure!

· Alba · said...

Waahhh, I loved the trilogy ^O^!!
I read it in Spanish and I liked it sooo much ;)
Maybe it was the translation what made you think the book was bad ToT

Anonymous said...

I thought the book was good it was fun and easy to read.