Monday, April 17, 2006

To Buy: The Last Witchfinder

Bookgasm's got a nice review of James Morrow's The Last Witchfinder. As much as I like monster-hunter tales, it's a tired convention and you really need something new to do with it. I should make a list of good monster-hunter books and dig into what makes them exceptional. From the sound of this review, it looks like Morrow should be on that list. I aim to find out for sure.

Attention-getting quotes from the review:

"...the novel belongs to a heroine... who’s never the same after witnessing the hanging by her own father of her own beloved aunt, merely for dissecting animals in the name of science. At that moment, Jennet renounces not God, but her father and his “holy” mission. She vows to destroy all witchfinders, even if they’re members of her own immediate family."

"...part swashbuckling adventure..."

"...encompasses everything from... a long-term affair with Benjamin Franklin to a traveling freak show of deformed fetuses. Stranger yet, the book is narrated by another book – namely, Isaac Newton’s systematic masterpiece, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy."

"...breaks from the narrative at times to... debate the genius of the Universal film House of Frankenstein."

I very much want to see how Newton's Principia is able to serve as narrator for this book, but even more than that I have to read the rationale for declaring House of Frankenstein to be "genius."

2 comments:

Bookgasm said...

Somehow I knew you'd be interested in this one.

The term "monster hunter" wouldn't have ever crossed my mind to describe this one until you mentioned it. It doesn't quite fit this one: too literary, too lofty, too loopy.

Michael May said...

After reading your review, calling it that seemed like a stretch to me too. It's just the first label that came to mind when I read the title.

Usually a title like The Last Witchfinder would make me yawn and assume that the story's a cliche, but this sounds so completely unique that I have to read it.

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