Friday, February 7, 2014

Review | Witch Hill

Witch Hill by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Review by Kari
September 2000 by Tor Books
192 pages
Amazon + Good Reads

"This little-known classic by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley is a wonderful treat for readers feeling the loss of this marvelous author. Part of Bradley's beloved "Light" series, Witch Hill is a sensuous story of witchcraft, demonic possession, and true love.

Sara Latimer's last relative has died. Heartbroken and feeling totally alone, Sara moves to the family home she had just inherited, Witch Hill, only to find that she is shunned by most of her neighbors. 

Finally Matthew Hay, one of her only allies, explains that Sara's aunt was a powerful, evil witch and that the townspeople fear that Sara is following in her footsteps. Matthew and his ladylove, Tabitha, are also witches, and they too believe that Sara has her aunt's powers-and that she is ready to be possessed by her aunt's waiting spirit.

Sara crumbles under the steady onslaught of Matthew and Tabitha's evil. For a time, her love for Brian Standish keeps her sane, but at last Sara is lost in a maelstrom of dark power and sex magick.

As a Champion of Light, Colin MacLaren cannot allow Sara to be destroyed by Matthew Hay. Even at the risk of his own soul, he will save Sara."

-Good Reads

I picked up Witch Hill in a bargain bin about four years ago for two dollars and it had been collecting dust on my bookshelf ever since. With that being said, Witch Hill was probably worth the two bucks, but not much more. It was interesting enough that I finished it quickly, but I was dissatisfied with several aspects of this book.

I hate books that are predictable.  After the first few chapters of this book it was pretty clear the direction the author was taking the story. There were none of those "WTF JUST HAPPENED" moments, and it really took all the fun out of reading Witch Hill. By midway through the book, the ending was pretty obvious.

I also did not like any of the characters in the book, which made it very difficult to connect to. I initially thought I would be rooting for the main character, Sara Latimer, but her character development really fell flat for me. She was not someone I could relate to or admire, and she lacked personality. She made so many poor choices throughout the book that after awhile I couldn't even feel bad for her.

The final disclaimer I will give on this book is that there is a lot of sex. When the description says "sex magick", you should take that literally. It is not 50 Shades of Grey.  The sex scenes in this book are primarily unsettling, with more than one scene of Sara being forced to have sex against her will.  So if you're easily offended or made uneasy by these kinds of sex scenes, I would not even bother giving this book a try.

Despite the negatives, this book did actually have some redeeming qualities. While I did not like the story, I did quite like the writing. I would read something else by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Her description of the town was fantastic. I could see it, hear it, even smell it. She transported me to small town New England. Ironically, although she did not develop the main character at all, she made the residents of the town come to life. The rural, somewhat backwards, people of Witch Hill were believable and interesting. I found myself wishing to hear more about their lives, and less about Sara's.

All in all, I can't say I suggest this book to anyone. I would suggest picking up something else by Marion Zimmer Bradley, because I'm not prepared to rule her out as an author just yet. If in her other books she used her excellent writing style in the context of a better story, I think it could be fantastic. However, for Witch Hill, I would say don't bother. There are so many great books to be read, and Witch Hill is just a waste of time by comparison.

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