Witch Song

Witch Song - Amber Argyle

I probably only give up on one in every two hundred books I read, but I seriously can't finish this one. It's one of the dumbest books I've ever had the misfortune to stumble across.

 

I usually avoid YA these days, just because I've read too much garbage in the genre. (No offense to those of you who enjoy it.) But this one looked like it had an interesting premise, and it didn't look like The Book, so I picked it up.

 

My mistake. The MC is a witch, and I don't mean the magical kind that this book would try to sell you. I mean the horrible, nasty kind who eat children for breakfast. The narrative is sloppy. The characters are all stupid and despicable. The coincidences are off the charts. The magic system is one of the lamest things I've ever seen or heard of. Look at this:

 

Plants of the forest make a path for me,

For through this forest I must flee.

After I pass hide my trail,

For an enemy I must quell.

 

Firstly, "trail" and "quell" don't even kind of rhyme. Secondly, you used the word "forest" twice in two lines. Third, this is totally idiotic. Do the plants speak English? What if I changed up the words, would they be able to tell? Usually, when people are affecting the environment with magical words, they at least use magical words. Or they try to explain it some other way, like the speaker uses the words as a focus or something. But in Witch Song, the MC is a witch, so singing at stuff makes it obey her. End of story. Nobody says she has a magically beautiful voice or she has magic in her blood or she was trained to use this special type of magic or anything. I'm just supposed to buy that since she's a witch, she can do this stuff.

 

Whatever.

 

It had never occurred to her that Sacra could have been a different person before she became her mother.

 

Sacra is the MC's mom's name. And you can see how brilliant the MC is - after all, everyone knows that moms have no lives before their kids are born . . .

 

Surely she'd lived here for generations.

 

Wait, what? This is the MC talking about her mom again, who lives in a hut in the forest. And apparently, the MC thinks her mom is like two hundred years old and has spent all that time living in this hut. Ahaha. You're so intelligent, MC.Really.  I can't get over how insightful you are.

 

She shivered as the wind's fingers painted her skin silver with moonlight.

 

Does the wind have a color? Paintbrushes? Because I thought the moonlight might be what was making her skin silver at night. Not the wind. Apparently though, the moonlight just sits up there, not touching anything, and waits for the wind to paint things silvery.

 

Oh, and there's this scene where the MC's mom shows that there's a stash of gold coins hidden in the wall, apparently left over from her dramatic past life. (Shocker!) Her mom also says that there's more gold hidden under the hay in the barn.

 

.......But wait a second. How can there be a ton of gold hidden in hay in the barn? Wasn't the MC a kid once, and don't kids love to crawl through haystacks? Wouldn't the hay have been moved or changed quite frequently over the years? Just how can there be gold in the barn that the MC has never seen?

 

Oh, and later in the book, when the MC gathers up the gold from the wall stash, the leaves the stuff in the barn and goes happily tromping through the countryside without it. I don't know whether the line about the gold in the hay was supposed to be edited out, or whether the brainy MC just forgot about it, but . . .

 

And when the MC's mom shows her the gold, the MC is instantly shouting about how she could have had new shoes and nice clothes and blah blah blah with all this money, and instead they've been scraping by on smaller coins. Sacra quite pointedly tells her that the people of the nearby town would cut their way in here and steal the gold if they knew it existed - thus, the gold is hidden FOR THE MC'S AND HER MOM'S OWN PROTECTION.

 

Sounds reasonable, since all the characters in this book are pigs. I can see them tearing down the forest to steal the witch's gold.

 

But the MC starts acting all cold and nasty towards her mom over this. Apparently she'd rather have new shoes than be safe and protected.

 

Sacra leaves the house and warns the MC to not use the gold unless it is absolutely necessary, for obvious reasons. So, the MC lives in the hut alone for a couple of weeks and then runs out of salt. She starts throwing around the smaller coins they've been living on, a temper tantrum any spoiled two-year-old would be proud of, and takes some gold from the stash and heads to town.

 

Just because it wouldn't make sense for her to buy salt with the safe money, right? It's much smarter to steal from her mom's little hoard and show the evil townspeople that she's rich.

 

The MC talks to this good-looking male shopkeeper, buys salt and a huge bolt of expensive fabric that she wants to use to make a dress for herself, and a big expensive necklace. She trips off back home and then is actually surprised when the nice shopkeeper turns out to be a witch hunter and shows up at her house.

 

That was the stupidest scene yet. She sang to the corn, which mummified the shopkeeper and his henchman. (It didn't actually mummify them with all the gory details, it just wrapped them up. But still. The corn is smarter than the MC.) Throughout this scene, the MC keeps singing to the corn, covering their mouths, uncovering their mouths, covering them again. I'm trying to picture it in my head - does she just sing a couple of syllables and the corn changes shape, or does she actually have to sing a whole chorus? Because if she's singing a whole chorus every three sentences she speaks, I just . . . . no.

 

Oh, and she leaves them wrapped up in the corn overnight, by the way. To freeze. She's standing out there shivering in the frigid weather, but she leaves those two dudes immobilized outside. I don't know why they didn't die of hypothermia. They didn't even get frostbite.

 

But anyway. Look at this:

 

As she walked, she was aware that she was doing something she'd never done before - deliberately disobeying her mother.

 

Ahaha. That's cute, apparently this is the only kid ever to reach her mid-teens without disobeying her mom even once. I find this especially hard to believe since the instant her mom is gone, the MC's first instinct is to disobey her.

 

Oh hey, and this girl only brings the dog along to protect her. Not because he's a big, sweet dog who would love to come along - she never gives a thought to the dog's feelings, even though the dog is obviously smarter than she is. Every thought in this girl's head is me, me, me, me, me, me, me. She never makes a decision that doesn't benefit her and never thinks about anyone else.

 

A young man she'd never seen before. She's never seen such beautiful teeth.

 

Notice that in those two sentences, the words "she'd never seen" are used twice. Exactly the same words. Twice. *facepalm*

 

Her golden hair swished behind her as her feet flew over the packed Earth.

 

Why was "Earth" capitalized? Was she just running over some dirt, or was she running over the whole planet? I'm confused.

 

That he had pretended to care made the betrayal so much worse.

 

She's talking about the shopkeeper/witch hunter. Ugh. I was telling her the whole time that he was evil. If she'd just listened to me, or even used her brain (does she have one?), or maybe just not drawn his attention with gold coins, she'd have been fine. Oh, and he didn't pretend to care, and this isn't a betrayal. He was a shopkeeper. He took her gold in exchange for merchandise. He complimented her hair once, I think. And that's it. Because he was "good-looking", apparently the MC decided he was on her side.

 

She felt coarse fur next to her as Bruke rejoined her.

 

Bruke is the dog. Dogs don't have fur. Maybe she felt the fur of an unmentioned cat next to her at the same time as Bruke showed up?

 

Brusenna sang hard and long for the corn to be strong and sure.

 

So . . . if you blow out your voice by singing too loudly, it makes the corn more durable? What? 

 

Only two people knew she was in Gonstower.

 

Wait, what? Were there only two people in the entire village? Because I'm pretty sure every single villager knows you live nearby . . . use your brain and stop leaping to conclusions. What if one of the villagers went on vacation and got drunk and mentioned to an entire tavernful of people that you live near Gonstower? Or what if a stranger showed up in town, spent an evening at the tavern, and heard a ton of drunk villagers talking about you? Anything could have happened to get the word out that you live near Gonstower.

 

He was clearly terrified of her - even more so than the dangerous man at his side.

 

Ahaha. Explain to me, book, how the shopkeeper is "dangerous"? He never did anything! He walked into the forest, bumbled a kidnapping, and got caught by some corn. That's it. But I'm supposed to be shaking in my boots at the sight of him?

 

I wouldn't of let 'em hurt you.

 

Wouldn't have, brainiac. You wouldn't have let them hurt her. Not of. Good grief, I thought second graders everywhere were learning the difference.

 

Oh, and by the way, how does one become a Witch Hunter? Since there are only a handful of witches left in the world, you know, I'm sure Witch Hunters are greatly in demand. Do you just pick up a backpack and go marching down the road looking for witches to hunt? Is there an Order of Witch Hunters and some kind of initiation or testing? No?

 

Then you might as well tell me. Sounds like the knowledge won't be with me long.

 

Ah, yes, the old "you can tell me your evil plans because I'll be dead soon" speech. That's lame enough, but you know what the worst part is? The bad guys fell for it. Honestly, I wouldn't believe the MC if she said the sky was blue, why would they fall for this cliché tactic?

 

She wished she could take the time to bake travel bread, but there was no point in staying that long.

 

Why not? You have the two goons tied up in corn outside, you don't know if anyone else is coming, and there seems to be no immediate danger. Why is there no point to staying and baking yourself some travel rations?

 

She looked around her home. "What am I forgetting?" she asked Bruke.

 

You're forgetting the gold under the hay, girl. Not that you listen to me, your mother, or anyone else smarter than you who would remember it's there.

 

What if Wardof escaped last night?

 

This is the MC waking up in the morning and worrying that her corn-bound captive might've wriggled free. I don't think I need to point out that if he had gotten free, he'd have come into the house while she was asleep and quite neatly captured her, do I?

 

She'd never really trusted anyone before.

 

She trusted her mom so much that she was indignant to find out her mom lied to keep them both safe. She trusted the shopkeeper/witch hunter guy. Any other takers?

 

Aha, and then we come to the scene where she spends her precious gold coins to buy a dozen honey cakes, and then eats them all in one sitting. Firstly, let me point out that she has no income while she's on the road. Once those coins are gone, they're gone. You have no way of getting more, unless you go back home and dig under the hay. Wasting them by filling yourself to bursting with sweets isn't exactly the most intelligent move you could make.

 

Hair and dirt flew everywhere.

 

This is while she's brushing down a horse she intends to buy. And I have to wonder if anyone actually takes care of these animals? Because if they did, there's no way she could just scoop up a brush and get a reaction like that. Are all the horses filthy like this one? Because I thought this one was the owners' prize. The others are actually probably worse off.

 

But now, she was afraid.

 

She has her back up against a horse that doesn't know her. Horses react to fear.

 

Joshen dropped to the floor, trying to use his weight to throw them off. Both Hunters stumbled.

 

Joshen is a skinny little guy in his mid-teens. The "Hunters" are fully grown men, one of them huge and bulky, and each has a hold of one of Joshen's arms. I think they're expecting him to try and escape, so their grip is probably painfully tight. But for some reason, they both stumble because the kid pretends to trip over something? I don't even . . .

 

Joshen scrambled into action, tackling the fat man just as he reached his feet. They rolled in the hay and dirt until Joshen pinned him.

 

And oh my gosh, now he can pin the big guy, too! Wow. Let me point out that in a situation like that, the skinny little loser has no way to use speed or agility to his advantage, so he'd get crushed in two seconds by the opponent who weighs three times as much as him.

 

......And that was where I stopped reading. Page 79, I think. I couldn't take anymore.

 

I'm tired of giving low ratings to so many books. Let's hope the next one is better than this.