Malus Domestica

Malus Domestica - S.A. Hunt

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

1.5-2 stars. I liked the ideas at this novel's core, but ultimately I had a hard time getting into it, and had to force myself to go on reading. I guess this was a matter of rhythm, and of some clichés that didn't sit too well with me.

The premise: young witch hunter Robin Martine has been travelling through the USA, filming her tracking and fighting witches (women who sacrificed their heart to goddess Ereshkigal in exchange for powers and a longer existence). She puts her videos on her YouTube channel, followed by thousands of people who don't realise this is no special effects, but reality. After years spent training and hunting, Robin comes back to her home town, to get rid of the witches who killed her mother; along the way, she gathers quite a little posse of various characters who'll help in that quest.

As said, the ideas themselves were fine. The YouTube channel? Why not: surely being anonymous would be a better choice, but there's a certain appeal to the "hide in plain sight" theory. The various secondary characters formed a pretty diverse cast— a veteran turned artist, a kid and his father, a gay childhood friend and his brother owner of a comics shop... There's a creepy house, existing on two different levels (I love that kind of atmosphere, those "parallel nightmarish worlds" layered over the normal world). A ruthless killer. Cats who're more than cats. The stifling surroundings of a small town where just about anyone can be a spy of the witches. And so on.

The problem with the characters, though, were that in spite of their diversity, they were also a bunch of clichés, and not very developed as individuals. Kenway had his own background story and issues, but Leon's bereavement for instance was just touched upon, and he wasn't more than "Wayne's father" in the end. Same with Joel, who felt like a potential sidekick but also like a gay butt-monkey of sorts. These side-stories both took too much room, in a way, while at the same time just being here, instead of being fully exploited ("while we're here, we might as well...").

I was hoping to see more of the witches and the killer working for them. While they did create a predicament for the "heroes", I kept thinking they could and should have done more, been more frightening, brought even more weirdness into the story.

The writing itself was alright (although I found it weird when onomatopoeias were inserted—don't ask me why I'm sensitive to that). Even though I mentioned having trouble getting back to the book every time I stopped, it wasn't because of the style.

Really, it's too bad I didn't like it more. This book could've been right up my alley, but didn't work for me in the end.