While Bark May Be 20% Of A Tree’s Weight, Its Bite May Be Much Bigger

Book Review: The Root Witch by Debra Castaneda

The Root Witch is original and well-written, based on a true and enormously creepy concept, and reading it is thrilling escapism. I like most of the characters. They feel authentic and even the most unlikable or peripheral make sense. Former journalist Debra Castaneda has a gift for picking out the most notable parts of a scene and presenting them clearly and fully realized. The book’s so easily visualized, it seems ready-made for film.

I find it refreshing to read about strong-minded people, like Sandy, who keep it together and show bravery and integrity despite struggling with painful baggage. It’s challenging enough for women in a male-dominated field to overcome unfair competition and discouragement. The way Sandy uses counseling to maintain functionality in her demanding career is the way it ideally should be done.

And happily for me, Castaneda doesn’t dwell inordinately on drama that isn’t a reaction to the threat itself. There are always good reasons to include troubled, broken characters, but their constant presence in so many of the novels I read can leave me feeling bleak. It’s encouraging to read a horror novel where some people are fundamentally happy despite problems. I like how The Root Witch keeps most of the tale’s darkness within the unfathomably monstrous killer in the forest.

On a personal note, I generally limit my superfluous drama consumption — which may not make sense since I prefer high-octane thrillers that can be tragic and horrifying. Fiction helps me to experience a vicarious sense of control. What I read allows desensitization to circumstances which trigger me in real life. So, not only is this book entertaining, it’s therapeutic! Well done!

Thank you to Debra Castaneda and BookSirens for the free advance reader’s copy of The Root Witch. I’m writing this review unencumbered by obligation. I heartily endorse it!


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