Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Review of Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Well today is September 1st and it is Amber Argyle's release day for her debut young adult fantasy novel, Witch Song.  I finished reading this just last night as I was able to purchase a Kindle version of it almost four weeks ahead of the release. When I asked Amber why it got released early, she indicated that there was a problem with people pirating the file which really surprised me. It's a topic I'd love to talk to Amber about one of these days. Maybe I'll get a chance when she goes to a signing scheduled in Layton, Utah (about twenty minutes from where I live) this September.

As far as a debut fantasy novel goes, there are a few new things that I saw here which I thought refreshing.  Her magic system deals a lot with plants.  Witches rely on seeds and they use plants to do all kinds of crazy things. There's even a scene where she talks with a whale and I had flashbacks of the Superfriends and Aquaman telepathically controlling whales.

Anyway, the pacing and writing in the book is solid. Rhemelda Publishing did a bang up job with the formatting--it's excellent.  The swoon-worthy male in this book is Joshen and he's the apple of Senna's eye as it were.  My bone to pick here in their relationship is that there is a point almost in every chapter where Senna pushes Joshen melodramatically out of her life saying that it is too dangerous for him and that she could never live with herself if anything happened.  He of course counters with..."but I'm sworn to protect you...don't push me away...Senna!"  And pretty much that scene gets played over and over and over and over.

Then we have little characters like Pogg who really reminded me of Dobby the House Elf in the Harry Potter films.  He lives on this island and fishes and fetches things, etc.  I thought the character was entirely too cutesty, however, I'm not thirteen which is where I think this book's intended audience may lie.

The novel wraps up all plots cleanly. The climactic battle with the villain of the story and the protagonist was a speed bump as far as battles go...I was disappointed in that.  I guess smacking each other around with plants can't really be all that impressive.  And the way that Espen (the villain) got defeated kinda smacked of deus ex machina but really no more than Aslan going around and fixing everything.

All in all, I give this book four stars (out of five) because I'm not going to rate it with the eyes of a forty-year-old (which I am) who has read everything from Tolkien, to Eddings, to Martin, to Brooks, to Lewis, to Zelazny, to Gaiman, to Alexander, to Kurtz and blah blah blah.  If you are an adult and have kids, buy this book for your kid to read.  Or, buy it for yourself, if you are an adult that loves literature for teens.  That is my recommendation.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, Michael. Sounds like there's some new ideas in this novel, which is always nice!

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  2. Great post, lovely blog.

    Your review was...well had me very interested in the book by the time I read to the end of the post (then again, I am such a sucker for cynical wit :P)

    Congrats to Amber, on the release and the cover is gorgeous.

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  3. I like fresh ideas. This is a YA, right? Well, then I can understand the melodrama a little. I have a teen at home. :) Oh, and I'm also turning 40 this month. I'm dubbing it black September. :(
    Thanks for the review. :)

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  4. Sounds like a good one! thanks for the review. :-)

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  5. Pogg reminded me a lot of Dobby too. I agree with your recommendation. WITCH SONG is definitely good teen fantasy lit.

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  6. Very fair and balanced review, well done!

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  7. Thank you so much for the review/recommendation! My 10 year old, loves all things witchcraft and so I will be downloading this to my Kindle...right...now...done!

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  8. I've heard great things about this one. Good review, Michael!

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  9. Is that four stars out of four or four stars out of five? That's why in my reviews I put (4/5 stars). Then you know for sure.

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  10. Four stars out of five. I'll edit it.

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  11. Awesome review! I agree with everything you said. It was so fun getting to read some of these (and even take a few pages home) during a conference about 18 months ago! It was a pleasure to meet Amber and throw a few cents into her MS.

    Can I just say, Team Joshen! :)

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  12. Doesn't sound like my thing, but I'll recommend it to Middle Daughter, who may like it.

    I am heartened to see that "witches" in fact are the next supernatural thing we'll add to other things in order to make those other things seem new again.

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  13. I'm excited she's coming to Layton as well! Hopefully I'll be able to go.
    I love how you rated it without the eyes of a forty-year old. ;)

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  14. It sounds like there's a decent balance between action and romance. I don't mind some romance, but I can't stand when it's the only plot line.

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  15. Good review. I think a touch of criticism sells more books than a breathless loving-it review. I hope you cross-posted at Amazon and Goodreads. :-) And I still hope you give my future book 5 stars. HEEHEE

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  16. I've seen the cover around on some blogs. Good to get a feel for what the novel is about.

    Your mention of piracy makes me wonder if people really think about what they're doing . Do they even care that unless you're Nora Roberts or James Patterson that you're a regular person and that you might need the small amounts that you get from each book, particularly if you're with a publisher?

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  17. Hehehe you make some good points. One think though: Aslan technically can't count as Deus ex Machina, as he is in fact well established as Narnia's "god", but I know what you mean. :-)

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  18. Oh, this book looks pretty good. Fighting with plants? That's definitely an original idea. I can imagine how the fighting might be a bit... lackluster in comparison to LOTR. Either way, I'll be recommending this to my niece, seems like a book she'd like.

    Thanks for the review! It's always nice to see one to learn about new books.

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  19. Well reviewed Michael. I like the idea of the power of plant life.

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  20. Thank you for the review!

    I like the idea of a magic system dependent on plants--it sounds like it could create some interesting scenarios.

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  21. Thanks for the review! Sounds interesting. I love the plant aspect :)

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  22. I love the cover, so pretty! And the plant magic sounds pretty interesting, as a sort of different cry from the usual magicks hanging around in novels. I would definitely give it a go where I to get my hands on it.

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  23. This might be one for my daughters. Interesting review. Pretty cover, too.

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  24. Your review has excellent details! I love the cover of this book, too.

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  25. I love the idea that this magic uses more natural 'power'! Cool review.

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  26. I'm not one that really reads this genre but it would be great for a teenage girl. Thanks for the review!

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  27. I've seen this book around, and been meaning to read up on it... great review:)

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  28. Sounds like an awesome book! And I absolutely love the cover.

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  29. Sounds like a great YA read - thanks for the tip :)

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  30. Well, I might just have to go track this one down. The plant thing makes me think of Aprilynne Pike (Wings, Spells, etc.) and her plant fairies.

    I love the cover on this one.

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