Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free by the author. However this was in no way considered a guarantee for a positive review, I have not been paid for this review, and the Author did not have a hand in the creation of the review. What follows is an honest critique of the strengths and weaknesses of Witchcraft Couture.
So. It’s an odd book. Certainly not bad for a first effort, and definitely worth a read. Set in the world of clothing design and fashion, this is not your usual fantasy novel. And yes, it is a fantasy novel. It might not start out that way, but it certainly finishes firmly within the realms of fantastical fiction. Don’t be put off by the idea of fashion or design, which are merely used as a vehicle for the fairy tale plot. Yup, fairy tale, but not in the usual sense. This is a real fairy tale; mean, full of odd characters and the inevitable fallibility of the hero, and it works.
Witchcraft Couture is a book of clichés, above and beyond the usual level for other semi-fantastical fiction. Just in the first few chapters we find hints of a “chosen one”, the classic tortured artist, substance addiction and long flashbacks meant to imply a destiny! Surprisingly the narrative is still fairly tight, moving carefully between scenes and skipping countries with relative ease. We are mostly treated to the anti-hero’s internal monologue throughout, carving up metaphor and cliché into something workable, though the interactions with other characters (of which there are comparatively few) are not quite so believable.
Speaking of metaphor, the author certainly has a flare for extended description and explanation of many of the details. Pleasingly, this usually forms around the clothing; colour, cut, style and how various outfits are worn get plenty of page space, something quite integral for a story based around fashion and design. By the end, however, it does get somewhat tiresome.
The blending of fantasy and reality is fantastic. The entire book is written in a diary style and at first this feels a tad confusing or unnecessary, but begins to make a lot of sense as the format starts to impact on the story and its pacing. The fantastical elements also justify some of the early clichés, working a lot of them into the story.
A lot of thought and research went into Witchcraft Couture and it shows; the use of fantastical elements is clever and well planned, clichés do have an impact – and honestly, I can’t really pick on a fantasy novel for being clichéd: they all are – and the idea of blending in the fashion and design business is just fantastic.
All in all, it’s a clever story. The fashion elements are definitely cleverly used, and form a good background for the unfolding tale. The story itself is engaging, well told, and with few hiccups despite the slow start. Pretty damn nifty all round, definitely worth a read.