Khanh the Killjoy

Winds of Salem - Melissa  de la Cruz I have certain expectations for my mythological gods. I expect them to be larger than life, I expect them to be have complex characters; I expect them to behave with the grand wisdom acquired over the eons over which they have lived.I do not expect this: "[Freddie] had made a mental note, of course, to do some laundry and throw some in there, but it had slipped his mind when he put on Warhammer and just had to get to the next level."In the context of this scene, he's left his apartment a mess, strewn with dirty laundry, fast food remnants, old magazines, and a pet pig (Buster) running amok. His wife is upset because she's busy studying for her exams, and Freddie has done jack shit.So who is this...Freddie? Is he a frat boy forced to be married at gunpoint? A middle-aged, balding 4-chan addict?Actually, Freddie is the reincarnation of the Norse god, Freyr. He is supposed to be one of the most powerful gods in the Norse Vanir. And Buster the pet pig? Oh, that's just the powerful, prized golden boar, Gullinbursti. Details, details. Whatever.It says volumes about this book that the fact that it seriously fucks with Norse mythology is the least of its problems. Let's put aside the multitudes of erroneous portrayal of Norse mythology, and just focus on the story and the characters. Just on that basis: this book is bloody horrible.The writing is not difficult to read: it is extremely YA. There is no complexity here, there is no poetry in the language. The writing is purely telling, and not showing. It is easy to read at best, and poorly, horribly contrived at worse. A 5th grader would have no problem understanding the writing within this book, and would probably take a great deal of amusement at the utterly non-steamy sex scenes. I became more aroused browsing through the clearance rack at Saks than I did reading the love scenes within this book.The dialogue is painfully forced, particularly those of the Salem Witch Trial era. One of the dumb-as-dirt goddess characters, Freya, somehow got her ass stuck back in time. With the time period comes the torturous attempts at making era-appropriate dialogue. It was truly agonizing to read. The characters' speech from this era read simultaneously too modern and excruciatingly artificial. It is, in short, a middle schooler's version of 17th century American speech.So, to continue on about Freya. Granted, hindsight is 20/20, and Freya is stuck in the past without her memories, so you can't really tell her that the Salem Witch Hunt is going to happen. But here's the thing: it's called common sense, and Freya lacks every vestige of it.It is only rational to assume, when you are living in an ultra-religious Puritan society, when neighbors turn against neighbors and go to court over a bad basket of fruit, it's probably not a good fucking idea to tell people that you're a witch and you have powers. Particularly when those powers aren't just limited to subtle things, like herbal healing. No, Freya's displays of powers are ridiculous, extravagant, showy, leaving no doubts whatsoever as to what she is."Without her having to use her hands, the cows began to splash steamy streams of milk inside the buckets she had placed beneath their teats.Eggs lifted from the hay inside the chicken coop, flying into her basket as the hens let out surprised clucks.Next came the blackberries. Rather than getting nicked and bloody hands from the thorns, the berries plucked themselves off the brambles, falling into the girls’ baskets."In the middle of the day. With a witness. Fucking brilliant, Freya.This book also makes an absolutely mockery of the Salem Witch Trials. The only credit I can give it on that point is that the character of the slave Tituba is not portrayed with a mockery of a modern Jamaican accent.This is not a book or a series about Norse gods and goddesses. Take away the labels, the names, and what you've got is Passions. It is a fucking multigenerational soap opera. The characters are artificial, they get themselves into dumb situations, they act like teenagers when really, they should know better, given their age and supposed sagacity. Keep in mind, these are supposed to be gods and goddesses, people. No, with few exceptions, they all know who they are. There is no memory loss to justify idiotic behavior. If you set out to read a book about gods and goddesses in modern times, you will be disappointed. Just go watch a soap opera, go watch a reality show; it's more amusing and enjoyable in the long run.Here Comes Honey Boo Boo might be a better choice over this book. At least the characters feel real, and the main character is actually a child, instead of adults behaving like children.