Thursday, 21 March 2013

Weather Witch - Shannon Delany

In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.

Reading the short summary of the book, Weather Witch sounds like pretty much any fantasy YA novel. A young girl finds out about a heretofore unknown power of hers on her birthday, cue adventure. I guess this is technically true. However, the book is incredibly slow. The actions of that summary take roughly a hundred pages to happen. A hundred

It isn't even that all this exposition gives us time to explore characters or setting. I can tell that Delany knows exactly what's going on in her world but things are mentioned so offhand and never referred to again that it's hard to follow exactly what's happening at any given time.

The perspective shifts constantly. Normally, I would be a fan of that because it adds to the action and energy of the story. However, this is too quick, to the point where I feel like I don't know any of the characters since when I feel like maybe we'll get a feel for what they're like, the perspective shifts again. In theory, Jordan is the main character but we probably only spend a fifth or so of the book with her.  She spends most of the book in transit and commenting on the fact that she's in transit. 

I was impressed by the ease with which Delany kills off characters. For a YA book, it's rather refreshing to have characters in dangerous situations that they don't necessarily live through. However, it suffers from the same lack of not knowing a character well enough that lessens the dramatic impact of the death. It's a quick shock instead of a lingering, emotional toll.

Once I finally felt like the book was going somewhere, around page 150 or so, I did get curious as to what was going to happen. I started reading more quickly, curious as to how the story would end. The answer? Abruptly. All at once I realized I only had four pages left and how in the world was this going to wrap up in four pages. Well, it didn't. It read like a chapter end, not the end of a novel. Although I realize that this is the first in a series, it needs to still be a self contained story as well and this did not achieve that. 

I wanted to like it because I really like the idea behind it but the writing was too haphazard and the plotting too loose. Sorry, Weather Witch.

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