This book started off so well. The description of the knoll was amazing. The tone was nicely creepy and magical. The apple dolls in the underground house were so well-painted by words that they gave me the chills just reading about them.
But then, Jane left the knoll.
I didn't mind cranky ghost witch. I accepted that to make magic work, the main character had to stop wearing jeans, shoes, or anything with buttons or zippers. I didn't say anything about her hairstyle making magic more effective. I sat through all of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch jokes. I didn't grind my teeth in frustration about the villain's name being Trick E. I didn't question the Jamaican gnomes. I didn't groan about the bad math equation pick up lines.
But I draw the line at "Life is horrible, but love is the reason for life!" Even I have my limits to how much hokiness I can handle.
The message itself wouldn't even have bothered me so much, if it hadn't been delivered the way it was. It was not at all subtle. They may as well have shouted, "PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS THE MORAL OF THE STORY!!!" before Jane comes to that conclusion.
I did love the details. I know Attanasio is very good with descriptions, from reading The Dragon and the Unicorn.
Trick E, despite his name, was a very colorful and fun villain. (I might not be a fair judge though, since I always enjoy vulpine villains.)
I also totally want a digital witch.
This was a fun, silly book to read. And it would have been a much better book if it were just fun and silly, and didn't try to suddenly become all metaphysical at the end. Or, if the book had been serious and metaphysical the entire time. But you can't go from Sabrina the Teenage Witch jokes to seriously philosophizing about the reason for existence. Unless you're a master at handling transitions like that, the tonal change there just doesn't work.
I'm not saying that this was a bad book. I enjoyed reading it very much. It just could have been so much better.