March 7, 2011

Review: The Witching Hour by Ashley Christman

The Witching Hour
Author: Ashley Christman
Publisher: Lyrical Press
ISBN: 1616502061
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*This novel was provided  by the author for a honest review

For more information please visit Ashley Christman's website.

The gods just might be crazy.

Lucky Sands is anything but. His wife is cheating on him, his job sucks, and when she walks out on him and dies in a car crash, the only thing he can think of is drowning himself in cheap booze and cheaper sex. But when he finds his childhood friend Tuesday Peters working in a brothel, his luck takes a steep downward dive after he finds out her twin sister is dead...and that Wednesday's death was no accident. Together Lucky and Tuesday embark on a search for answers, plagued by spirits and deities alike. Every clue along their path points not just to the truth of Wednesday's murder, but to divine machinations that prove everything Lucky knows about life to be wrong--and prove there's no such thing as luck. Only fate...and the madness of the gods.
The Witching Hour by Ashley Christman is a unique supernatural tale that expertly mixes mythology and witchcraft to create an intriguing Noir style mystery. Interesting characters, a childhood romance, and a dark family secret all culminate to make this an interesting piece with an original tone unlike anything I've read.

The tone of this novella is an original blend of noir style mystery and Gothic horror, creating a unique atmosphere not so unlike that surrounding the Adams Family. True to the reference, the characters themselves could have stepped from that particular family tree as they are all quite unique and exquisitely odd, yet somehow quite appealing. With a fluid writing style Christman encompasses a large pantheon of mythological figures ranging from the Greco-Roman beliefs to Irish lore and finally Wiccan practices. This wide scope offers a lot of leeway in creating a massive world where anything and everything can happen.

The characters themselves are flawed and utterly human despite the fact that they aren't quite 'human'. Yet, I found myself liking them simply because of their pure yet jaded spirits. However, while they were interesting and enjoyable to read about, I did feel that their development could have been a bit better with more exploration into their personalities. For example, Lucky is a little two dimensional, his thoughts and emotions falling a little flat given that he is half-god, hunting the killer of the Tuesday's sister, the woman he loves, and is being given a choice to follow this great path to destiny by the gods. I mean, there is so much potential there that could have been explored. Instead, the story stays on track as he desperately tries to save Tuesday's life while solving her sister's murder. Tuesday herself is definitely a candidate for more in depth exploration as well. A witch born to a wealthy family whose own father helps her to open up a brothel. That right there is cause to lift an eyebrow, making me wonder what was going on there. I mean, I would have lover to get a glimpse at her father, because he had to be quite a man. But, what really made me question her was the lack of any real emotion surrounding the murder of her sister. A murder that she herself felt as it happened. And yet, we never really go into that aspect either. What we do get is a lot of exploration into the doomed romance between Tuesday and Lucky. How they both love each other, but have never really  admitted to the feelings or even accepted them. While this may have intrigued me for a while, it became a little repetitive about half way through the story. When tragedy finally does befalls the relationship, that once more sparked my interest and ended up culminating in a nice if not confusing ending that I really didn't see coming.

The mystery which drives this novella is nicely written, but easily decipherable. Of course, it isn't so much the mystery of the murder that intrigued me, but why the gods present within the novella would care about either the Peters Witches or Lucky Sands. There is also a lot of action going on as the pair set out to solve Wednesday's murder, but at times the pace still sort of lagged despite the constant conflicts and struggles the pair endure. What interested me most, however, wasn't the action or the pursuit of clues, but the wide range of mythological personas popping in and out throughout the novella. They added a lot of intrigue to the plot as we slowly come to see the bigger picture and how these two characters are entwined in their plans. It was also interesting seeing the few different types of creatures playing their roles in the human world. I think this was definitely the aspect that I enjoyed the most as the eclectic blend of mythos are effortlessly paired with the mortal realm and blended to create a world unlike any other.

The world in which all of this transpires was also quite interesting and while complex, not overly complicated. The atmosphere is decidedly Gothic and yet maintains a modernity that is easily accessible. I definitely liked the world where witches and ghosts are common place, as are a vast array of other supernatural and otherworldly creatures. I would definitely say that the world was nicely developed, but once again, could have been more so. I would have liked to see a bit more in the way of the setting of scenes so I could truly get a sense of the locations involved, such as Maison de la Lune. There was definitely a lot about this locale that I would have liked to know about, as well as a more in depth exploration of the Peters witches themselves. Their bond with Hecate would have been interesting to see actually being put into motion and I think would have helped flesh out the ties that the household has with the goddess as well as the gifts bestowed to the three sisters around which all of this takes place.

Overall, while I would have liked to see a bit more development both in the world and the characters, this still proved to be an interesting and original read. Heavily focused on mythology and witch craft, Christman created a wonderfully unique novella that kept definitely me entranced.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some adult content

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