Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Review: A Lost Witch

A Lost Witch
A Lost Witch by Debora Geary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I'm starting to understand how Debora Geary does what she does.

She puts you inside the characters' heads (using free indirect speech, so it has extra authority, as if it's narration about the state of the universe rather than just their inner reflections).

Then she one-two punches you. The "one" is the inner reflection on events from the character's perspective. The "two" is a sentence fragment in its own paragraph, leading on from the thought of the first paragraph but bringing out the emotional importance.

Often with an unexpected twist. (Yes, like that.)

Result: ALL THE FEELS. Every time. Even though I find the kids' maturity credulity-shaking, even though I don't believe the occasional attempt to cast doubt on whether the latest misfit is going to find healing and a place in the community (because this is far from our first trip around this particular block, and there's a pretty clear pattern emerging), even though I don't know why the whole of Witch Central isn't in the advanced stages of diabetes and vitamin deficiency, even though there's no antagonist, even though nobody ever seems to work at their jobs but at the same time nobody ever lacks for money.

That's part of why a series with minimal worldbuilding, about nice middle-class people trying to help each other get over themselves and eating cookies, has consistently been at the top of the Amazon contemporary fantasy charts.

There is a bit more suspense that usual in this one. The power that the latest misfit witch has is dangerous, not only to her, but also to the sainted Aevyn, The Most Beloved Child in the World. (He doesn't always say something cute, but when he does, he... no, actually, he does always say something cute.) The higher stakes are good to see. A lot of the series has pretty low stakes in the universal scheme of things, which is nice as a change from the usual urban fantasy "demons are going to destroy the world!!!11!", but a bit of a boost from time to time helps to keep things interesting.

The other problem that the series is facing is character accumulation. There are so many characters from earlier books floating round that you end up with a lot of crowd scenes. It would benefit from a bit of reigning in.

Still, even now I'm starting to understand the formula, it's still working for me, and I'll keep buying them as long as she keeps writing them.

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