Sunday, August 23, 2015

Greenwitch (1974)

I stand confused by Greenwitch (1974) by Susan Cooper. By this, I mean that I can't understand how it came to be written. The story combines the Drew kids with Will Stanton in a minimalist tale, light to read, light on description and missing every bit of nuance and symbolism that so dominated The Dark Is Rising. I even found the overall structure weak. It's as if someone else hurriedly wrote this book or rewrote this book, short on time, fulfilling a contract with the least possible effort. Is that true? I don't know. At 158 pages, this is the shortest work in the collection by far.

How does that even happen? I know that corners got cut in the 70's, but this is extreme even for then.

In this book, the Drew children do almost nothing. If they had goofed around and ignored everything around them, the book would still have concluded the same way. Jane Drew did one small thing early on, and from there, nothing else mattered.

Tension? No. Tension requires stakes and possibilities. The experiential moment? No. Most of the description in this tale were matter of fact and clearly related, but not remarkable. Was it the journey, not the plot? No. As I indicated above, the important action took place by Jane in a moment of sympathy. Past that, nothing else mattered.

I often found myself briefly confused when switching character, the author not bringing me along quite skillfully enough, which given Susan's other works, is maddening. This woman is excellent at keeping the audience with the story. And yet, in this work, scenes hop about like a one legged duck.

I dare say that Greenwitch is the best written bad novel that I've ever read. Make no mistake, this thing folds under scrutiny, and I cry for the fabulous tale that this could have been.