Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: Of Love and Other Demons

Of Love and Other DemonsOf Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I so wanted to love this book. Touted as a captivating, enchanting and even "edgy" work of storytelling hinged with elements of magical realism, "Of Love and Other Demons" seemed like a promising novel that would haunt me psychologically and emotionally.

Instead, I ended up dreading everything about it.

Quick plot review (spoilers contained): Young girl gets bit by a supposed rabid dog. Said girl is subsequently believed to be possessed by a demon. Girl is sent off to a convent to be "healed"? exorcised? Many strange occurrences seem to follow in the wake of the girls arrival at the convent. There is an overarching theme of assigning evil to that which is not clearly or scientifically understood. Some adult priest becomes enraptured by the young girl and their relationship hints at pedophilia. Eventually, everyone dies.

Maybe I missed the deeper meaning of the story because I got so impatient with the long-windedness and near overwhelming number of characters thrown into the mix (which was rather difficult to keep straight). Or maybe I've just become shallow in my old age and need a little more gratuitous action in my novels to hold my attention. In any case, I found myself constantly distracted by the never-ending introduction of the newest Marquis, Bishop, Dominga or person-from-some-Holy-Office. I felt like I needed a character guidebook to accompany the reading of this novel because after a while, I couldn't remember who was who and what their relevance to the story was supposed to be.

The prose in which Marquez writes is admittedly gorgeous, but that wasn't enough to save this piece from the depths of the infernal flames in which I felt like I was burning during the entire read.

"Of Love and Other Demons" is a short book, (less than 150 pages in my edition), yet it took me an entire month to get through it. I just didn't find myself caring much about the characters and never felt swept away by the plot (*was* there one?). It is highly likely that the essence of the story was lost in the English translation from its original Spanish text; I will allow the benefit of the doubt for that. Nonetheless, I found this novel a painful read that left me unmoved.


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