By Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
New Page Books, 2007 $14.99
Review by Erin
This is not going to be a good review. I took all kinds of time with it, trying to pick out the least loaded words I could to encourage the author to continue her efforts, but this is not a good book.
The subject matter would have made an outstanding essay. Twenty or thirty pages on Gargoyles would have been wonderful. There are many people who would have been thrilled to see a work like that and it would have been of use.
But what this book actually contains is scattered information on gargoyles and grotesques (defined as any carved figure that does not have a drainpipe) in various paragraphs, sandwiched in between multi page digressions that would have Odysseus going “Where are we again?”
I could not get into this book. I really tried, truly. I hate it when I can’t get into a book I’m reviewing. So I worked at it. And it was a labor. I fail to see, however, what the relevance is of Medieval Guilds in Europe and their connection to a carved figure. Or, I can see the connection, but I am left wondering just why it is included in this book.
Truthfully, this looks like it’s padding out a short manuscript. Or the author is suffering from the “I suffered for my art, now you can too” problem with most writing. (This is a syndrome in which the author of any work generally does a lot of research and it ultimately doesn’t make it into the finished book. Because of the length of time and the scope of the material it is included in the book for no particular reason other than the author doesn’t want to have wasted that time.)
About half way through the book I was left wondering what the title of the book was again. I looked and couldn’t see anything to do with Gargoyles in the section I was reading. Digressions on the Heads of the Celts, the ways churches were built, the structure of a town in the 1000’s, Myths of the Medusas, Harry Potter and a Disney Cartoon named “Gargoyles” were all included in this book.
Frankly, I had to stop.
I am absolutely certain that if the reader can work their way through all the extra information, that there is data of use on gargoyles in here. I even found facts I didn’t know about. And the rest of the data that is included is well researched, you can tell that the author did her homework.
But there is SO MUCH that doesn’t belong. And once again it is a textbook for use by “The Grey School of Wizardry” in their segment on creatures.
No further commentary. I’ve made my feelings plain. There is a wealth of information in here; it is simply that most of what is here isn’t on Gargoyles at all. My score: 2 stars of 5.
Got this about two years after this review was first posted. It is a comment from the author. I put it here for balance and context.
Thank you for reviewing my book. As a writer, I can’t quibble with anyone’s opinion about a work– to form an opinion is every reader’s right. However, it bothers me that you have formed– and circulated– an opinion about a book you admittedly didn’t even finish.
There was no intention of padding the book’s content, as you imply. The intent was not to simply discuss the architectural creatures known as ‘gargoyles,’ but to inform them in relationship to the time period in which most of them were made, i.e., the medieval period. This meant talking about everything from architectural traditions to stonemasons to religious and artistic symbolism to mythology, as well as popular culture. The last portion of the book includes a field guide and a section on magickal “applications,” the latter done in keeping with the publisher’s aim that this fit into the “Grey School Textbook” series.
I’ve had feedback from a number of readers– including magick users and architects– who have given me strongly positive feedback for the book. Perhaps it wasn’t your cup of tea, but I’d respectfully request that before you review a book, you at least read it. And, if you “can’t get into it,” you might simply decline the review. I am also a book reviewer, and this is the course I follow. It seems wrong to damn a book with faint praise or outright derision when you haven’t actually read it.
Originally posted 2011-08-04 01:38:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter