Thursday, June 20, 2013
Review of Season of the Witch by Arni Thorarinsson (Amazon Crossing, 2012; Icelandic 2005)
Season of the Witch is a mildly entertaining tale set in the north of Iceland. It’s what I would characterise as an ‘okay’ story: it whiled away a few hours without every really capturing the imagination. The story suffers from three main issues. First, the main character is bland and nondescript and is not conflicted enough with respect to his ostracisation to the north, his ‘odd couple’ relationship with his news editor, or staying on the wagon with respect to drinking. Moreover, the author tries to cast him as both a worldly rebel and a decent, moral conservative, and he’s really the latter. The result is a character that doesn’t ring true, who’s difficult to connect to or identify with. The other characters also seem quite weak and superficial in their portrayal. Second, the story is drawn out and meandering and lacks pace and tension. Moreover, the plot just about holds together, but it becomes thin at times. Third, the writing is quite pedestrian, although it does have some nice observations at times, especially when it discusses the play the students are putting on and Icelandic lore. The overall effect is an investigative journalist story that never really seems credible or sparks into life.