Witches Be Crazy by Logan J. Hunder
Hunder’s first novel is a light (indeed, silly) adventure, set in a fantasy world with no pretensions to period or consistency. The story, such as it is, occurs in a series of episodes along the path of a ‘quest’ (nevermind if the quest makes sense or not), with continuous banter, surprise twists, and lot’s of fighting.
Actually, it reads like a video game, and I’m 99% sure that is not a coincidence. More and more fantasy literature come out like the video games that their authors (and fans) know so well.
There is nothing wrong with this kind of story telling, though translation from the interactive screen to non-interactive written language can be a challenge. And Witches Be Crazy exhibits many symptoms of these challenges.
The characters are shallow and undeveloped. They have “back stories”, back stories which can be told in a page. They have a few simple characteristics (the men are “large”, the women are “small”, the men are ugly, the women pretty, etc.) Basically, game characters, no?
The quest itself makes no sense, even before the plot twists complicate things. The trek is incomprehensible, and every chapter is a new, unconnected ambush. Kind of like a video game, but tedious to read rather than play. And each problem is solved by a battle, often involving a combination of random violence (punching, and punching, and punching) and pulling magical tricks out of thin air. No planning, thought, or actual cleverness. Definitely gamish.
The “dialog” is horrible. SOME OF THE CHARACTERS YELL. Noone has anything interesting to say, but unfortunately they talk a lot anyway. A lot. Sigh.
The relations between the characters are shallow and actually unpleasant to witness. The women are poorly drawn caricatures, silly and stupid. But this isn’t just sexism, because the male characters are just as badly portrayed, and just a unattractive. And, amazingly enough, these shallow people exhibit the most uninterestingly shallow relationships.
Fortunately, the violence is not graphic (one benefit of the shallow prose style, I guess).
The author is aiming for comedy, but I didn’t really get it. The comedy is slapstick, I guess, but since I don’t care about the characters or situations, it is hard to even laugh at it.
Hunder shows occasional glimpses of promising storytelling, and certainly has imagined a complex (game?) world here. This novel disappointed me, but perhaps we can expect some good things in the future.
- Logan J. Hunder, Witches Be Crazy, New York, Night Shade Books, 2015.
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