May. 14th, 2008

annathepiper: (Page Turner)
The lesson I learned from reading The Witches' Hammer is this: just because it says 'Hitchcock' on the cover, no matter how much I may want it to, this does not mean I'm about to read a deliciously complicated mystery worthy of old Alfred. And this is my own damn fault, because a big part of why I bought this book is because the name 'Hitchcock' grabbed me. Sure, not Alfred. But once the name got my attention, I read the blurb and saw a review snippet that called the thing 'elegant', so I thought, okay, I'll give this a shot.

On the surface, the core of the plot is sound. We've got a youngish heroine whose book collector father is murdered when he acquires a notorious grimoire, and the blurb promises intrigue as she and her ex-husband and an occultist book collector track down what the deal is with this grimoire. We've got the obligatory Secret Society that's an offshoot of fundamentalist Catholicism. We've got the heroine wandering all over the world as she tries to put all the pieces together.

But here's where the book falls down: the vast majority of it is just people talking to one another. There's hardly any interesting action, and most of this is at the end, far too late to keep me from wishing that the characters would stop yapping to one another and get into a good ol' fashioned shootout or car chase or brawl in a dark alley.

Right in the wake of this is the other issue I have with this novel, which is to say, a lot of the aforementioned character dialogue is caught up with gender politics--as personified by the heroine and her ex-husband sniping at one another about how "you guys want this" and "you gals feel that". This got pretty tiresome to read after a while, and wasn't helped much by the description of how the grimoire equated women with evil, ravening succubi. Don't get me wrong, this is potentially powerful stuff to write about; for me as a reader, though, this particular story didn't handle it well. It came across more heavy-handed to me than anything else.

Now, all this said, I should also give this book credit for doing a few unusual things. It is unabashed in giving us a heroine who plain flat out does not care for sex, and the experiences she has towards the beginning of the plot don't particularly resolve this question for her. Neither do either of the main male characters, which surprised me, and which I rather respect--"I don't know if I like sex, but I certainly didn't like it with you" is a refreshing attitude to see in a novel. I was also rather startled by the final fates of the main characters, on which I won't elaborate here, since that involves spoilers.

All in all this was ultimately unsatisfying to me, though there's enough here that it could work for a different reader. For me, two and a half stars.
annathepiper: (Ten and TARDIS)
Well now, that was fun, and isn't this a new and interesting wrinkle thrown into the universe, eh?

Spoiler samples in the machine... )
annathepiper: (Starbuck)
Dude, I am severely behind on my Battlestar review posts! Part of this, I have to admit, is that to some degree BSG is just not engaging me as heavily this season; the unremitting grim of the show is no longer adequately offset by likable aspects of the characters. I'm not feeling the Roslin love this season (with the exception, I grant, of episode 4.06), Lee has become a lot less interesting to me now that he's gone off to join the Quorum of Twelve, and even my and [livejournal.com profile] solarbird's TV Girlfriend Starbuck has gotten just a touch too crazy for me to really like as much anymore. In fact, the only character I'm still rather liking is Sam.

All that said, though, I'm still definitely intrigued by the overall events going on. The last three episodes have given us some tasty WTFery, and the whole building Cylon civil war? Booya. BRING IT.

4.04: Escape Velocity... )

4.05: The Road Less Traveled... )

4.06: Faith )

And, that'll do me for quick and dirty review comments. We'll see if I can do a full post for next week's episode; now, I gotta go edit something!

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Anna the Piper

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