Sunday, July 29, 2012
Witches on the Road Tonight (review)
This is a review that I knew I should write. However, this is a book that I wish I could wipe from my memory. Yes it was that bad. Sitting down to write this review has been a bit of a struggle. However I am going to try. There will be spoilers. I tried to avoid character names and specifics, but the spoilers are necessary to understand why I feel so strongly about this book.
I picked up Witches on the Road Tonight because I always find myself looking for books with Appalachian roots. We have a great storytelling tradition and rich legends in these hills. But these books almost always disappoint me. This might be the most disappointing yet.
This book tries too hard to be literary. The story alternates between the past and the present. In the past it struggles to find a child's voice, making a unbelievably grown-up, too sexually aware version of an adolescent girl especially considering those sections take place in the past.
This book wanted to be edgy and provocative, throwing in everything from witchcraft, women who love sex, to abortion, to homosexuality. There are at least two very disturbing scenes, one where a young teen throws himself naked at his father-figure who suddenly realizes he's gay. I don't like the implied connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, even though I doubt that's what the author meant. It just makes me uncomfortable and not in the "testing the boundaries of my beliefs" way but in the "that's beyond creepy" way. There is also a horrible scene where a woman who's pregnant either has a herbal abortion or miscarries (the book leaves that up to the reader) and it graphically describes her celebrating as the blood flows out. I don't care whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, that's gross.
The adult-child relationships were pretty much all unhealthy. Here is a quote, most likely not exact because I listened to the audiobook but the gist is the same.
"Cora is drawing him a bath, almost flirtatiously, the way women do with their grown sons." This section was either a flash of the future or a daydream or something, once again the book was unclear, but it was confusing and made me very uncomfortable.
There is more I could say. The characters are unlikable and the plot plodding. The audiobook narrator's Appalachian accent was somewhat offensively overdone. But when I remember reading the book, those are annoyances when compared to horrible attempts to be edgy and the disturbing imagery that I want to erase from my mind. Just don't read it.