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Wormwood

Wormwood
by G.P. Taylor
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2004
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.ca: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback
Christianbook.com: hardcover, paperback
Reviewed by: Greg Slade
[Shadowmancer]

Book Rating

Rated 3 (Highly Recommended) by: 1 person
Rated 2 (Recommended) by: nobody
Rated 1 (Suggested) by: 1 person
Rated 0 (Reviewed) by: 1 person
Total Votes: 3 people
Average Rating: 1.33 (Suggested)
Score: 0.40 (Reviewed)

Wormwood is not a sequel to Taylor's first book, Shadowmancer, but rather a completely new tale, set in 18th century London. Dr. Sabian Blake, a "scientist" who dabbles in the occult, has obtained a book called the Nemorensis, which purports to offer secret knowledge of the future. His maid, Agetta, discovers a fallen angel chained in the attic of her father's rooming house. The book alternates between following Blake and Agetta, as they interact with various other characters, all of whom, in one fashion or other, display the ugliness of fallen humanity.

In fact, the whole book is rather depressing, as there isn't a single character who is consistently righteous, or even positive. In fact, the one thing which seems to keep the "bad guys" from triumphing in the end is that different sets of "bad guys" seem to be acting at cross-purposes, and interfering with one another's efforts. I say "seem to" advisedly, because Taylor can't seem to keep it straight, from one chapter to the next, which characters are supposed to be sympathetic, and which antagonistic. One character might seem to be good in one chapter, bad in the next, and irrelevant the one after. In fact, even more so than in Shadowmancer, Taylor seems to need the services of an editor to tighten up discrepancies which have presumably crept into the story over the course of multiple edits. (And, just as was the case in the earlier book, characters hear sounds, and correctly identify the causes of the sounds they're hearing, even though the various bangs, thumps, and scrapes shouldn't be that informative.)

Then, too, even more than in the earlier book, Taylor is clearly opting to make the story more exciting, at the expense of logic, or even any kind of moral or theological point. Unfortunately, abandoning logic for the sake of thrills means the the thrills don't convince. For instance, in the first chapter, he describes the Earth suddenly stopping, rotating backwards, and then spinning around eleven times in a matter of minutes, as if inertia didn't exist. (H.G. Wells knew better than that when he wrote "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" in 1898.)

I picked up this book from the bargain bin at a fraction of its original price. Having read it, I can easily see why it never sold at full price. In fact, it seems to me that even those who enjoyed Shadowmancer would find this book a disappointment. Unlike most authors, Taylor doesn't seem to be improving with practice. (May, 2006)

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