Witch Hill –by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fiction / Horror? (could be Humor?)
There is something about Bradley's writing that usually sets my psychic teeth on edge, and so I haven't read many of her books, and few of those I started did I finish. Still, she has a solid reputation in the SF/F genre, and when I found this book on a recent trip, I figured I'd give her another try.
This time, I finished it, and over all, it was an okay read. But only an okay read. Whatever about her Darkover novels or Mists of Avalon that rang a discordant note in my psyche was not in Witch Hill. Alas, there wasn't a lot of anything else, either. I don't think it measured up to her capabilities or her normal writing.
There is a lot of sex in this book, germane to the story. While sex doesn't bother me, unless it's totally gratuitous and or sadistic, I'm not sure it added all that much. It felt like it was added at the last minute, without much, shall we say, fleshing out?
I found the book "jerky" – lacking smooth segues between scenes, sometimes no segues, smooth or otherwise. It read more like a rough draft than a polished novel. Thinking it may have been published posthumously, I checked – the book was published in 1990 and she died in 1999; however, Wikipedia says she suffered declining health for years, so that perchance played a part.
Sara Latimer is one of a long line of Sara Latimers, all Witches (not Wiccans, please do not confuse the two) who died violent deaths; however, she knows nothing of her father's side of the family. Her brother was killed in a military accident, her mother died on hearing the news, and her father died on the way home from the double funeral. While going through mail and bills, she discovers the ancestral home she knew nothing about in Backwoods New England exists, and someone wants to buy it. She, needing money, as well as a place to recoup the onslaught of sudden deaths, ventures forth to see first hand what she owns, and if she really wants to sell it or keep it.
Now, I know and understand all of us grieve differently; however, having lost my parents and other friends and family, some close together, others not so much, I found our heroine to be somewhat unbelievable. Another strike against the book. However, it IS a novel of drugs, sex, and, uh, witchcraft.
Arriving at the manse, she discovers she looks exactly like previous the Saras whose portraits hang on the walls. Many of the locals are sure she is the Witch, reincarnated. Some even fear her, like they feared her departed Aunt Sara who died 7 years prior and whom she not only did not know, but did not know of.
She meets the young Dr. Standish, and (of course) it's love at first sight for both of them. The only problem is the Coven wants her back--with her Aunt's memories and power. Oh, dear.
Hard times ahead as Sara must decide what she wants—the power of the Coven, or the love of a man. She can't have both. (Remember, this is fiction, and not about Wiccans!)