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Wormwood, by G. P. Taylor Book Review | SFReader.com
Wormwood, by G. P. Taylor Genre: YA Horror Publisher: Putnam Published: 2004 Review Posted: 12/30/2004 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 5 out of 10
Wormwood, by G. P. Taylor
Book Review by Heather Hunt
Have you read this book?
This sophomore effort from the former Sex Pistols' roadie, self-published
author, and current vicar, G.P. Taylor, is a disappointment. As a follow-up
to the mesmerizing "Shadowmancer," "Wormwood" still deals with dark
spiritual themes, the supernatural, magic, science, and medieval England. It
is also still categorized as Young Adult, but this is the first problem.
There is one young adult, fourteen-year-old Agetta, featured prominently in
the story. But she is not the main protagonist, and the story is only
occasionally told from her point of view. In fact, the changing point of
view is the second problem.
Sabian Blake, a London scientist, member of the Royal Society, and sometime
alchemist, is the main protagonist. The novel begins with his perspective,
leaves it in spurts to follow Agetta's sorry life, but returns regularly and
most often to Blake's story. Unfortunately, Blake is not a character who
engenders much empathy from adults, let alone the teenagers for whom this
book is intended.
Taylor did his homework and describes the London of a few hundred years ago
in all its squalid vividness. The constant dark dreariness doesn't make for
an enjoyable read, however.
Wormwood commits the cardinal sin for young adult novels of not having
Agetta ultimately come up with her own means of salvation. In fact, she
doesn't change all that much from beginning to end. She's an innocent victim
throughout with no flaws other than petty thievery to overcome.
Sabian Blake makes the most changes, but his transformation is only
tangentially related to Agetta's story. She doesn't do anything to help him
change, they both just happen to be caught up in the same chain of events.
Taylor has a capable writing style, but his editors would have served him
better by forcing him to decide whether Wormwood would be an adult or a
young adult novel. They also could have molded the plot into a more logical
progression that didn't leave some plot points dangling, such as Agetta's
invalid mother, who isn't cured, changed, or killed. By the end of the
story, she disappears from the narrative altogether although her buildup in
earlier chapters led this reader to believe Agetta might have some part in
saving her mother.
I'm looking forward to more work by G. P. Taylor, but I returned the library's copy of Wormwood with no plans to purchase it for my own bookshelf.
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