Book Review: The Witch of Portobello


portobello

I picked up this book because I like portobello mushrooms and witches. Turns out this book isn’t about either one of these things. Despite this, I really enjoyed this book!

First thing is first, this isn’t a fiction or fantasy book. It isn’t trying to be a fiction or fantasy book. So, insulting it for not being these things isn’t fair. There are a lot of bad reviews for this book on this website and I think that’s why. This book isn’t really a novel. It also isn’t a Biology textbook or a historical account of the Civil War. It is pointless to be angry at it for not being these other things. I suggest entering this book with an open mind.

This book IS a discourse about returning to pagan roots.

This might be confusing because there are characters and there is a plot, however, these aspects are just aesthetics so the reader can be engaged in the discourse. Also, this book is “preachy” because elaborating on paganism is the entire point of the book. Religion and spirituality are mentioned in every scene not because the author is uncreative but because that’s what this book is about! It is best to understand this book as an emotional and exciting essay instead of a fantasy book about witches.

I could easily rate this book three stars, but I’m ignoring the Epilogue and giving it a four. The story was building up the idea that human’s spiritual intellect isn’t sharp enough to really know what is going on out there. And that awful things happen even if you have a feeling everything will turn out alright. AND I love that dark cynical point of view that is sprinkled throughout this book. But when you get to the Epilogue and it turns that on its face, well, I think that as intentional, but for me it was extremely agitating. Look, from chapter one, you know something really awful is going to happen to the MC. You don’t forget because it is repeated throughout the narrative. It is only a couple of sentences but it is the only clue to negativity in this entire book, the rest is VERY optimistic and positive.

When reading this book I thought, ‘If there really is a Blessed Mother then why do such horrific things happen to her children?’ But this question isn’t even touched upon! If the author has a different philosophical perspective, then ok, but make your argument. Totally ignoring legitimate concerns really weakens the thesis.

Paganism is a big deep world but this elementary introduction was perfect for me because I’m really elementary with this kind of stuff. Paganism wasn’t sold to me, but in a lot of ways that was just the vessel. The MC rejected Christianity and went to back to her roots and found Paganism. This reject and replace — this independence — that she has is powerful and resonated with me.

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