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Witches by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
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All readers know about the reading slump, that damnable period of time when you just can’t settle into a book. Nothing you pick up can hold your attention and you begin to wonder if you have lost your reading mojo. I got my mojo back when I picked up Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Witches.
When I peruse the paranormal section of my favorite used bookstore, I don’t normally gravitate toward books that focus on witches and witchcraft. To be completely honestI didn’t find this book, it found me and I am rather glad that it did. The premise of the novel is quite simple: Amanda is a white witch who finds herself pulled into a nefarious plot constructed by none other than Satan himself. Amanda’s vulnerability is the element that will draw you into the book. Amanda is introduced to us as a woman who is all but crippled by the grief she feels following the death of her beloved husband, Jake. At the same time we find out that Amanda is far from weak and is in fact one of the world’s most powerful white witches.
It takes Griffith a bit too long to pull Amanda, and by extension the reader out of the mourning period and into the thick of the plot. As Amanda is dealing with her grief, the town of Canaan, Connecticut where she lives is experiencing a rash of violent, cult-like killings. Many in the town are suspicious of Amanda and suspect she is behind the killings or at the very least is involved in them. By the time Amanda gets her head on straight it’s too late – the cult publically implicates Amanda in an effort to draw her out. Here’s the rub: the cult not only draws Amanda out but traps her in Canaan, Connecticut at the end of the seventeenth century. Oh yes, dear reader, that would be the right time and the right place for the witch trials.
It is at this point that Griffith takes a very bold and risky step; she begins to move the novel back and forth through time with Amanda in the late seventeenth century and her sister, Rebecca in the twenty-first century working to bring her sister home. This type of “time travel” works nicely with both the plot and the geography and allows Griffith to further develop Amanda and her sister as strong central characters. This type of writing could have easily gone horribly wrong for Griffith but it did not. She manages to not only move between the two time periods but to connect them as well!
The bottom line? I have three dislikes: 1) the afore mentioned sluggish nature of the first part of the novel and 2) the rather underdeveloped qualities of the minor characters, in particular, Amanda and Rebecca’s familiars Amadeus and Tibby. Griffith actually gives these two characters their own “human” voices which in turn creates a great potential for further development(s) within the plot. Unfortunately, that never happened. Finally, 3) the unanswered questions regarding the Guardians and who they really are.
Overall I did enjoy this book and the plot in particular as it appealed to my love of historical fiction without actually being historical fiction. I also liked the author’s voice – it is an older voice that imbued both Amanda and Rebecca with mature voices of their own. That is, Amanda and Rebecca are women who have lived, loved, and lost and came out stronger for it on the other side. This is a quality that I very much appreciated. I also have a feeling, and it’s only a sneaking suspicion really, that the things I disliked about the novel are not oversights on the author’s part but things that are going to be dealt with in a later novel. A girl can hope, right? ( )
  arthistorychick | Mar 31, 2012 |
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