Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Literary Lunes—Review of When Autumn Leaves

When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster
Chicklit, paranormal fiction

On an island off the coast of British Columbia is the town of Avening, a town where all the residents are a little odd, the whole town celebrates holidays from the Wheel of the Year, and you can buy magic potions at the drugstore. Autumn is the resident witch...or at least people think she's a witch. Either way, Autumn has been told it's time for her to move on, and now she needs to find a replacement, someone to be the new spiritual and magical leader of the community.

Each chapter takes place at a different pagan holiday, and centers on one woman finding her own unique abilities, with Autumn always in the background watching and guiding.

I was really excited for this book. Chicklit with a pagan twist, sounds great, right? It was a good concept, but poorly executed.

Most of the characters were likable and well-rounded, but almost all of them had moments (dialogue, reactions) that were hard to believe—like a 17-year-old referring to herself as a child. Teenagers don't see themselves that way. Some paragraphs were very well written, even insightful and beautiful, and some paragraphs were muddy enough that I wanted to take a red pencil to them.

Since each character only got one chapter, it could be hard to get attached to the characters. Around the middle of the book (Beltain) there's a love story, but I just didn't care. I had met this woman just a paragraph ago, and I'm supposed to be sympathetic to her desire to cheat on her husband? I'm supposed to feel the sizzle of sexual tension between her and some guy? Nuh-uh. I considered putting the book down and never picking it back up.

At the same time the lack of a single narrative was annoying, and not getting the plotlines of each woman happily concluded was disappointing, I still appreciate the novel's refusal to do the normal thing and instead look at an entire community.

All in all, I don't regret having read the book. In fact, I think back on the book fondly. It just could have been done so much better. It has so much unfulfilled potential!

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