My review of Witches and Wizards by Lucy Cavendish

witchesnwizards

I wanted to love this book.

I really did.

It is beautifully packaged, from Gustave Dore’s painting of Vivian and Merlin on the cover, to the pop of gold trim and whimsical font choice, the bookmark ribbon, and the enchanting endpapers. Even the paper choice, a heavy stock, adds to the book’s mystique, and when coupled with delightful illustrations throughout, well, it seems like this book had everything going for it.

Unfortunately, the words contained therein are unable to elevate themselves to match the grandeur of the design.

While there are some interesting tidbits here and there, the book is far too brief, awash in a sea of vague references to figures and events both legendary and historical, but its the historical inaccuracies littered throughout that do the work the most harm.

I like the author’s writing just fine, but the devil’s in the details, and it’s the attention to these details, be they altered and malformed either to meet some attempt at brevity or an out and out failure in terms of research, that is most lacking.

To that fact, for just the slimmest of examples, volumes have been written about Aleister Crowley, arguably the single most influential occultist of the 20th Century. Researching the man would require only the minimalist of efforts, yet his home on Loch Ness, the infamous Boleskine House, is referred to as Boleskin over and over again, not to mention the inaccuracies concerning W. Somerset Maugham’s interactions with Crowley and their subsequent “feud”.

I could go on until breath escapes me, but let it suffice to say that despite a glorious example of graphic design at play married with an author with a clear talent for the craft of writing, the end product is marred by careless misrepresentations.

Witches and Wizards really is a brilliantly designed book. I will cling to it, for its physical attractiveness, but the meat of the tome is to be found wanting.

Witches and Wizards by Lucy Cavendish is available wherever books are sold.

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