Review: The Holy Well by Colin Macpherson

Colin Macpherson
Mopoke Publishing, 400 pp.
Source: review copy
Review by Bernadette Gooden

Colin Macpherson has obviously researched The Bronze Age in Scotland very thoroughly. Just as well really, because the historical detail about this fascinating era is the only vaguely interesting theme in this otherwise boring and turgid novel. It's rather like wading through a vat of porridge, or a haggis... or two... or twenty.

Two men, Bren and James, born thousands of years apart, share a strange, mystical destiny connected by a "holy" well with magical healing powers and transdimensional qualities (yawn). Bren, at least, has an exciting life as a Bronze Age leader and warrior. James is just an offensive twerp.

While we do perhaps need to simplify our lives and have a greater regard for our environment in the 21st century, we cannot go back to the more primitive past. In a time when people were lucky to live until 40 it was very important that they reproduced as quickly as possible. In our modern world it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a child and the position of a teacher is a position of trust. In the novel, the justification for a sexual relationship between Diane, a 16-year-old girl, and James, her teacher, is some sort of meant to be, spiritual claptrap. The author's suggestion seems to be that we should dispense with our modern concepts of morality and go back to the way things were before all this new fangled civilisation got in the way.

The characters in this novel are all two-dimensional. I felt nothing for James. Even his sexual exploits are very lacklustre and connect-the-dots.

At least Bren's life is presented in a more interesting and believable way. I felt more connected with the people in his part of the story.

The female characters only come in two stereotypes: juicy, compliant child/ woman under 18, and designing manipulative nympho hag (any female over 18). As a female reader I found this extremely offensive.

The descriptions of the battle scenes are handled well. I do, however, find it very strange that more people didn't know about the well and its healing properties. Every one in Bren's time knew about it, and people in the intervening centuries. Considering what a circus Lourdes is, why weren't thousands of people flocking there by the 1980s?

All things considered I found this book a poor read and in desperate need of more plot and character development.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 28, 2008 9:23 PM.

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