Disclaimer: a copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. I made it to 25% before deciding it wasn’t really for me. Naturally, this is only a review of the first quarter of the book. (75/300 pages.)
I really hate giving up on books, but I really couldn’t get into £6.19 per Witching Hour. I didn’t want to keep putting it off, so I decided to throw in the towel when I’d gotten to a fair percentage to form my opinion.
£6.19 per Witching Hour is set in a world where supernatural creatures live secretly among us. Point for originality there. However, our half-elf heroine Julia works for a recruitment agency in Croydon that specialises in getting work for unemployed vampires, witches, trolls, fairies, etc. The job sounds mundane, but when your work day is interrupted by a giant angrily bursting in with a chainsaw and demanding his late unemployment cheque, and you have to keep your composure shortly afterwards because you know you have to interview a fairy who wants a new job in the tooth-collecting business, it’s never going to be an ordinary day at the office.
This could have been an extremely fun concept. From the outset, I was perhaps wondering if the world at large knew that these supernatural creatures existed, hence the need for such a recruitment office. Nope, the world is as secretive as ever, and people remain oblivious to that guy on the night shift having fangs, or that girl who doesn’t show up some days of the month because there’s a full moon in the sky.
‘Every creature understands they are living in the twenty-first century. We have our own clubs, gyms, and shops and we live among humans without jeopardising our own identity. Most of the employers who deal with us want to employ paranormal staff. They don’t like to employ humans, but sometimes they don’t have a choice.’
Alright, fair enough. That kind of reminds me of the UK version of Being Human, in which George and Mitchell work as night porters in the local hospital because finding other work isn’t going to be quite so easy.
The main problem I found was that there’s a lot of really stiff dialogue, which is used a lot. Characters don’t seem to be able to use contractions in their speech, and I find myself completely taken out of the story every time I have to read:
‘”Fine, whatever. You are lucky that I am not dead,” I said. “See you later.”‘
‘”Not yet. Rufus said we have to finish our shift and he sends you his regards.”‘
‘”[...] I am seeing him tomorrow. He is a solicitor and he is gorgeous and I think that he might be the one,” she cheered, looking excited.
‘”I am tired of this dating but I want to be in a real relationship.”‘
‘”You were right when you phoned me. I did put you and Jennifer in danger because I employed an incompetent person, a manager to be precise, so I am sorry.”‘
‘”Calm down, Julia. I am not joking at all. I have been thinking about your promotion for a while. You have worked really hard in the past year, bringing a lot of business to the company.”‘
Along with the awkward dialogue, some of the descriptions can be a bit out of place or simply too obvious.
‘I couldn’t move. My body was in shock and I was paralysed.’
That second sentence didn’t really need to be there. We know that the giant with the chainsaw has barged into the office and scared the living daylights out of Julia, and her co-worker Jennifer. It’s only natural to assume that Julia wouldn’t be able to move, we didn’t need to know she was in shock.
‘Sometimes I got negative vibes off her, especially when she was staring at me with those Hungry eyes.’
(Thank you for the ear-worm, but I don’t quite see why ‘Hungry’ suddenly became a proper noun.)
‘I Hung up[...]‘
‘I felt as if I was already sweating and my heart was beating too fast.’
To Mazurkiewicz’s credit, English is not her first language. The grammar is generally all right, and the novel does pick up a nice flow from time to time. However, I feel some proof-reading, editing and revisions could have really improved on the novel’s shortcomings.
Another of these shortcomings was the fact that Julia just wasn’t particularly interesting as a character. She’s extremely passive, and I just could not get a feel for her outside of the fact that she works at a recruitment agency, recently broke up with a control freak, and her best friend and confidante is a human. But those are just facts about her; I want to see if she has some personality outside of those!
Rather than giving us a window into the world that these characters inhabit, with little details of their lives described, and their interests outside of their jobs, £6.19 per Witching Hour just uses a huge amount of dialogue in place of description. It doesn’t help either that Julia’s thought process is written in this very informal and awkward way. The sentences are either too short and snappy, or they run on for a mile before smacking head first into a full stop.
I was interested in the concept, and wanted to learn more about the world these supernatural creatures inhabit, and how it would translate into modern day London. The title itself is a play on the minimum wage in the UK (as if you needed me to tell you that), and so perhaps there could have been some clever insight into the terrible system we have in the UK for getting people into work. While I wasn’t able to press on any further, let me say that £6.19 per Witching Hour isn’t the worst book ever. It certainly had its moments, and perhaps if I weren’t tired of the whole secretive paranormal world trope, I might have looked on it a bit more favourably. As it is, the lacklustre main character and the stilted, awkward dialogue and sentence structure really hampered my enjoyment. Had it been edited a bit more, I’m sure I would have dug a little deeper. 2/5.