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The Reading Jackalope

Abomination

Abomination - Gary Whitta I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am pretty much done entering these. Of the books that I've won only one has been enjoyable and every other one has just been TERRIBLE. To be fair, this book isn't TERRIBLE, but it's just not good. There's some promise, but mostly I was bored out of my mind reading this and that's damning for a book that bills itself as horror.

Abomination is Gary Whitta's first novel, and is set in the era of King Alfred of Wessex. As a side note, that dude is having a bit of a comeback recently isn't he? I believe this is the third piece of fiction I've encountered in the past year that somehow incorporates him. Anyway, Alfred is defending his kingdom from the Viking invaders and not really sure how he can manage to keep it up. He find some ancient Latin scrolls, and his crazy priest manages to translate them and discovers that they're a way to turn living creatures into monsters. However, in order to make the monsters controllable, it's best if the monsters originate from humans. It's this last discovery that finally sends Alfred over the edge and ends the experiments. However, the priest has gone mad with power and escapes. In the ensuing escape and capture attempts he changes several of Alfred's men, including the greatest of his knights Wulfric. Fifteen years later, and OMG EIGHT CHAPTERS, the book FINALLY starts and we follow Wulfric and Indra. Indra is a girl who wants to be a knight, in order to do so she must hunt down and kill and abomination. Wulfric is hiding in the shadows living a cursed half life. The two meet and then of course we must wonder, will she kill him? OMG is there a secret connection between them? Will they find redemption together?

So, yea. I didn't like this book. I found the writing to be very, very dry. Whitta either never heard, or didn't understand, "show don't tell". It makes for some very boring reading. You can tell me all about monstrous creatures, but if I'm told that they're scary rather then seeing how scary they are I'm going to yawn. And guys, I am the person who stayed up all night with terror after reading And Then There Were None. I'm easily scared is what I'm saying. I think part of the problem is that Whitta's background is in screenwriting, and it shows. The difference between writing a novel and writing a play/screenplay are astronomical, they're just two very different forms of story telling.

There's also the pacing problem. Look, if you've got eight, EIGHT, chapters of prologue then you've got a pacing problem. All seven of those chapters could have been cut and the necessary background information worked in at different points in the story. I mean, look at my summary. I spent most of it detailing the prologue information and summed up the main plot of the book in a couple of sentences. Pacing issue. The remainder of the plot was fairly formulaic if inoffensive, but by the time I got to it I was so annoyed at wading through the previous eight chapters I doubt anything could have redeemed the book.

I also had a problem with the modernity of the characters. I'm all for pseudo medieval Europe fantasy stories where modern attitudes are common. But when you take an actual setting both the time and place and add magic you can't also just change the attitude of the era simply because magic. For starters, those magical experiments in the prologue wouldn't have gotten as far as they did. People were far to concerned with the influence of the devil to allow something like that to continue, especially in the main court of the King.

There's promise here. I suspect that a good editor could have helped to make improvements. Whitta needed to do more research into the era of Kind Alfred.In general though, this wasn't worth my time. It's not quite terrible enough for one star, but it's only barely good enough for two.