Lee is hesitant to attend Smith College and quickly feels like an outsider when she arrives, as though everyone despises her. After being date-raped by another student named Tripp, she discovers that no one believes her and that she is unable to receive assistance.
That is until she is admitted to a Gender, Power, and Witchcraft class. The class turns out to be a practical one, and her classmates are her coven.
The narrative develops further when she learns that Tripp has been rapping women on campus using witchcraft. This coven now seeks retribution.
I enjoy reading books about witches, from dramas and comedies to horror stories and history. I have no idea why. They appeal to me. So I spotted the cover of this book and immediately requested it, despite knowing very little about it other than the witchcraft theme.
At first, I was struck by how distinct the writing style was. It’s harsh, abrasive, and full of metaphors for everyday life. It’s not the best usage of metaphor; it’s more concerned with being witty or clever than with perfectly fitting the scenario. But that didn’t bother me.
It seemed like something a college student would do in their writing, thus it was probably deliberate. It was sometimes amusing or amusing in a caustic sense.
Lee, the main character, despises everyone, but she despises herself the most. Except for people her age, whose praise she seems to need, she describes everyone badly. Tripp, for example, is one of those cute guys. However, this demographic is all questionable in this story since they are all misusing their authority in some way.
As you can see, Lee’s world is bleak. Trauma, angst, cynicism, and anti-anxiety medicine abound in this book’s pages. Every few pages, someone pukes or talks vividly about their menstruation, which I believe is intended to make us clutch our pearls and feel jittery. Date rape and violent retaliation are also common. A visit to the sex shop is in order. A battle in which a sex toy is used to beat someone up.
There’s a lot of debate over whether feminists despise trans people if magic is sexist, LBGTQ concerns, and other hot topics. Dramatically, a lot is going on, and ideas are being tossed around.
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It’s a little disjointed at points since the author seems to give us a conclusion that isn’t based on an incident, and other times things seem crammed in. It doesn’t seem like the right time for an abstract conversation on the way to catch the evil guy, for example.
I know it seems harsh, but I didn’t despise this book. It was occasionally amusing. It’s dramatic and furious, and it creates a mood. However, while there were aspects of it that I enjoyed, I was perplexed. It reads a little like fan fiction at times, and I couldn’t tell if it was plain fiction or satire. Was there something I was overlooking? I’m unsure.
So, I believe it leads me to a point in this book that you can’t seem to avoid: The Controversy. Amanda Harlowe isn’t found when you search for her, thus she’s a bit of an enigma.
She has little social media presence for someone with a published book, and I couldn’t discover anything else she’s written outside one short tale. However, it appears that she modeled the book and its characters on real individuals, and they are not pleased.
These persons claim to have initiated legal action when ARCs of the book were sent out before publication, and they want the book to be boycotted because she utilizes them, actual conversations and things said in private, with their names barely concealed. They believe their right to privacy has been infringed upon. They’re really vocal on the internet.
I took a peek at the book and
1. I’m a minor character but the last name used is Lebanese/related to family
2. She included details about my high school job, hobbies, and insulted….my parents?
3. used GROSSLY exaggerated details about my sexuality?? as a high schooler????
— Emmett Nahil @ in the script cave (@_emnays) December 23, 2020
This got me thinking about a few things. First and foremost, who is this author, and what is her history in creative writing? Then I wondered if this was a ruse. Is the uproar caused or meant to entice people to read the book? As a parody of cancel culture? Perhaps Harlowe exacted her own vengeance on her old pals, knowing that they would become enraged and sell books for her. Maybe, maybe not.
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Perhaps most crucially, I was curious about the legal ramifications of “writing what you know.” Peyton Place, a lurid, gossipy narrative about the true-life behind the curtains of American suburbia, was a bestseller back in the day. From extramarital affairs to dark family secrets to incest and abortion, it has it all.
However, the author soon had stones thrown through her window as residents of her community recognized their own experiences on her page, which were thinly veiled fabrications. The book was massive.
It was derided as cheap and trashy, but it sold like hotcakes and spawned a film and television series. Dickens frequently modeled characters on people he met. And Hemingway’s travels and life experiences certainly influenced him. Of course, looks like Hollywood Wives are extremely popular since they are largely factual stories about real actors and real Hollywood.
Where do you draw the line between writing about your experiences, drawing inspiration from your own and others’ lives, and getting sued? What about the ethical line? It’s a tough question, and I’m not defending the author or the complainants.
However, when discussing this book, it appears to be the elephant in the room. People also have legal rights if they are defamed or have their privacy invaded. And I mean, I’d be insulted and wounded if a buddy utilized or published anything I’d said to them in private. These people, on the other hand, aren’t filing lawsuits; instead, they’re going online.
It’s a fascinating topic to consider, especially in this era of cancel culture, which has harmed the already fragile publishing sector by assaulting books and authors. I was a little nervous about writing this review since I was worried that someone might come after me for doing so. That is true.
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So there’s a lot going on in this book, both on and off the page. It’s an unusual book with a style and subject matter that won’t appeal to everyone. Others readers may find it unpleasant, and some of you may not want to read something that feels unethical. This has been expressed by a large number of Goodreads commenters.
On its own, I believe the book is poorly written in a few places and lacks coherence at times, but I enjoyed reading it and enjoyed how unusual it was from other things. I’ll let you decide on the ethical issues.
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