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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/08/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: My Wicked Highlander"

My Wicked Highlander
By Jen Holling
Published by Pocket Books 2005

Review by Lynn Loper

"What are these books like? " said Winston curiously.

"Oh, ghastly rubbish. They're boring, really. They only have six plots, but they swap them round a bit. Of course I was only on the kaleidoscopes. I was never in the Rewrite Squad. I'm not literary, dear -- not even enough for that." George Orwell, 1984

I read "My Wicked Highlander" in an hour and a half. It's 328 pages long, and I wasn't in a hurry. You don't really read it; it's like being in the room with someone you know very well, well enough to know that you don't have to concentrate on the conversation.

There's really nothing for your mind to stick to in "My Wicked Highlander". It's a jumble of anachronistic speech and thought, misspellings, a few hilariously inapt ethnic touches, and characters that have no characteristics. It reads like it came off the six-plot kaleidoscope and skipped the rewrite squad. The main character is a witch, and we all know what that means, which is good, because except for the witch's obsessive fear of being hung (which switches in mid-book to a fear of being burned: more accurate but inconsistent with what we've been told in the rest of the book) and some predictable visions, the author doesn't bother with exploring it. She spun the character kaleidoscope and came up with Feisty Virgin 43B, variation Q5 (Woman With A Secret: Occult).

Then there's the braw Highlander who comes to carry her to her home -- strong silent type 17C -- where her father has contracted her in marriage to someone who turns out to be a creep. Why? We never find out. He just has. But by the time she gets home, Plot 16A, variation 3, has kicked in, and of course she and the Highlander are in love. Sex ensues, villagers try to burn the witch, and she escapes and goes home. End of story.

The heroine starts the book with a sickening feeling of unease in her gut. By the end of it, the reader has one, too, and knows exactly why.

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