Of all the books I have reviewed, 'the Witch of Babylon' is going to be the hardest, by far, to talk about without spoilers. It's one of those books that, after having read it, I want to talk about in detail, with someone else that has also read it. Hmmm - sounds like a perfect book club book to me! Interested in the story line? Check it out here.
OK, let's start with writing style. D. J. McIntosh's writing flows like really good poetry. It is easy to lose an hour or two turning pages and not even realize time has passed. The descriptions of setting and atmosphere are well done and don't bog down the story. Occasionally I got lost while trying to follow the historical background but, I admit, I didn't try too hard. The great thing about that was that not following the historical stuff really didn't take away from the whole mystery. It worked for me.
The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Ms McIntosh has taken that to heart. I loved that the book included pictures of difficult to describe artifacts. Also the pictures of the clues left for John, in notes and artwork, really allow the reader to have an active part in trying to solve the mystery.
Speaking of John (he's the protagonist) ... I wasn't fond of him. For some reason he was hard to emotionally connect with and, often, irritating. He wasn't a morally upright hero that readers would just naturally get behind; nor was he the lovable rogue that we all hope will win, despite his weaknesses. It felt like the author couldn't figure out which she wanted him to be so he kind of flip-flopped. The only reason I was on his side was because I really wanted to find out how the whole mystery would be solved. As a character, I wanted more from John.
While we are talking characters, there are a LOT of them! Keeping all of the lesser characters straight was a task too great for me. I finally gave up and just went with it. The more involved characters are easier to keep track of just because they show up so often. The bad guys are really bad! There wasn't one that I though John shouldn't be afraid of. Besides the known bad guys, I had trouble trusting just about everyone. D. J. McIntosh did a great job of projecting John's isolation and loneliness and turning it into a deserved paranoia that carried the reader through the story.
The mystery of the novel is reminiscent of Dan Brown's 'DaVinci Code' and the 'National Treasure' movies. It requires the reader to learn new things as the book progresses and to accept certain 'truths' that may be outside of the reader's comfort zone. It is a book that stretches us, as readers, intellectually and makes us think about what we are reading and what exactly is happening in the story. Not everything is as it seems and figuring out what, and who, to believe takes some brain power.
The amount of historical and Biblical knowledge and research necessary to write this book, is astounding. All I know about the historical eras in question, I learned from reading "the Witch of Babylon'. Actually researching all the sources that would be needed to write in such detail about a variety of civilizations over time, strikes me as an astronomical task. I am in awe of the author's dedication. I wish I would have known from the beginning of the book that there are a few paragraphs at the end of the book, after the story has concluded, that explain the different cultures involved in the novel. It would have been nice to reference those as the story progressed. (I was reading an ARC so that might change)
The ending dragged a little bit in trying to tie up all the loose ends because there were so many. I think the reader is meant to be shocked by parts of the ending so I was rather proud of myself that I had figured some things out before I was told.
Interested in what some other bloggers think? Check out the rest of the tour:
Just a Lil Lost http://justalillost.wordpress.
The Literary Word http://theliteraryword.
Teresa’s Reading Corner http://teresasreadingcorner.
My Ever Expanding Library http://www.
Serendipitous Readings http://serendipiter.wordpress.
Let's Book It http://www.letsbookit.
A Bookworm's World http://luanne-abookwormsworld.
Evie Bookish http://www.evie-bookish.
Lost for Words http://lostforwords-corrine.
Snowdrop Dreams of Books http://snowdropdreams.