July 11th, 2008

I finished "Dime Store Magic" by Kelley Armstrong yesterday.

I finished "Dime Store Magic" by Kelley Armstrong yesterday, and I have to admit that I found it a little difficult to believe.

In the book we see a young Massachusetts witch and coven leader called Paige do battle with a sorcerer over the guardianship of a powerful young witch called Savannah, who is about to hit puberty and really see her powers develop.

The sorcerer is portrayed as the evil enemy, with all the power that a life of wealth and privilege can provide, while Paige is portrayed as the "plucky little woman who could."

The sorcerer attempts a number of ways to blackmail Paige into giving up Savannah, while Page fights back gamely, and stays in the game throughout the book.

The book wasn't bad, but I found the sorcerer's attempts at blackmail a little unbelievable if I'm honest. In the world inhabited by the book, witchcraft and sorcery aren't supposed to exist, so when the sorcerer starts to unmask Paige, the religious cooks come out in numbers to harass her. This makes her life even more unbearable. It also makes the book even less believable.

Ask most people what they think of when they think of witches and they'll probably describe images of women of a certain age doing silly things in the woods while under the influence of something. While they might not like what these witches do, I don't think that they'd get so worked up about it.

In the book, we're expected to believe they'd do anything to get a witch out of town. Well I'm sorry, but I don't believe it. Having lived in a religious area of America for 5 years, I can tell you the American religious right are many things (including very very very anti-Catholic), but they are not the bullies they are portrayed as here.

I know the book's fiction, I know it's not real, but I like a 'ring of truth' to my books, even if they're daft. So all in all, only read this book if you're really good at suspending your disbelief.

Is being anti-Catholic a subtext for being anti-imigrant?

I was in work yesterday and over lunch one of my colleagues launched into this anti-Catholic diatribe. I'm Catholic, but kept my mouth shut as she told me that Catholics weren't "one of us," that we couldn't be trusted, that we would do just what the Pope told us to do, that we were breading like rabbits, and we had "issues with drink."

When I pointed out that I was Catholic and that Roman Catholicism was the largest religious grouping in the US, she wisely pointed out to me that she didn't mean Catholics like me, but added that I was a prime example of what she meant, because my wife (she refuses to use the word partner) had our first child when she was 17.

I got up and walked away at that stage, because I knew I'd lose my temper but I have to admit that I felt like asking her if anti-Catholic was a subtext for being anti-Hispanic? Ask most people to imagine a Catholic and they'll imagine some one who's Hispanic, and the longer I stay in this country, the more I believe that some people might view Catholic and Hispanic as inter-changeable, and I'm not sure that that's a good thing for either community.