Elizabeth, Ken Greenhall Rothdas book review RSS
3.0 Stars

A novella about a very young, very beautiful, and very sociopathic Witch in New York. The book's narrator is odd; she has an extremely flat and straightforward affect, is utterly amoral, and while intelligent and perceptive she perceives and values things at a different wavelength than all of the other characters in the book. So while she arranges a number of deaths, she doesn't do so with any large amount of hatred or glee in wickedness. The main thing she cares about is the cultivation of her magic and the spirit-guide who talks to her through mirrors, and everything else in life sort of barely rises to the level of "interesting". So the character is not purely evil, she just does evil acts out of boredom, curiosity, amusement, self-advancement, and for protection. She does have her positive side; she enjoys and is mildly interested in several of the characters E.g. she enjoys her uncle's fierce desire for her, she enjoys a hedge mage's gender fluidity and magical talent. It's just that she is also willing to do away with them once they are inconvenient or challenging.

Despite this being a novella I think it would have been better if it was even shorter. The narrator's affect is neat and puzzling and it works well for a while, but it's also not one that you want to spend a ton of time with. I'd say it has enough charm to last for 125 pages but not for 175 pages . Also, despite the narrator's coldness and flatness the book itself is quite sensational, with lots of "dramatic" and "shocking" acts. This is fun and makes for a quick read, but ultimately I think it comes off less well/intelligently compared to other books which have similar starting points but do more clever and nuanced things with them (e.g. The Wasp Factory has a murderous youngster with magical thinking, but goes to more interesting places. E.g. A Darkness Visible has two murderous young semi-witches, but the descriptions of their psychology is much more fine, much more detailed, much more realistic. E.g. Brenda is far shorter and punchier and has more actual and relatable human passion. Finally and ever so slightly E.g., Flavia De Luce has some shared qualities, but again, the character is much more realistic to an actual child, who even though she is extremely gifted still has enormous blind spots and areas of inexperience simply because she hasn't lived long enough. This concludes my knowledge of relevant pre-teen and teenage witches.)