"Hollywood Witches" Book Review
Written by Thomas M. Sipos
2010, 383 pages, Fiction
Released on June 24th, 2010
Thomas M. Sipos' Hollywood Witches is a tough book to categorize. The first few pages give the false impression that it's a young adult novel, but then a sex scene that concludes with a wiccan trying to draw vital energy to do a psychic reading from a mouthful of semen, something no young adult writer would ever get away with, puts an end to that notion. As the reading goes on, there's a good deal of Hollywood-based humor, no horror, some action and a lot of New Age stuff, but the book never leans decisively towards any of those genres.
The book's premise is rather simple: Vanessa Cortez, a struggling actress and part-time tabloid reporter, goes to a casting and ends up stealing a couple of books and an ouroboros pendant from Diana Däagen, a failed actress and witch who works as a VP of sitcom development at a production company called Eos. The two books are powerful ancient hermetical sorcery texts that Däagen needs in order to perform a spell during the filming of a concert scene for a movie. With her magic and the two volumes, Däagen hopes to achieve control over Hollywood and thus enforce what she feels is right: cultural diversity. Däagen does everything in her power to get the books back, the tomes go through a lot of hands and madness ensues.
Sipos is obviously very well versed in all things Hollywood and he writes with a lot of insight about the business. The book is very satiric when it comes to the film and television industry and the world of appearances that holds it in place, but Sipos' critiques are channeled through humor that tapers off after the first few chapters. For example, the first couple of times peripheral characters try to "explain how the business works" to someone, you get a chuckle out of it. Nevertheless, by page 150, the joke has been used about a dozen times, which turns into more of a nuisance.
Sadly, failed attempts at humor and repetition are not the only things wrong with the book. The writing itself is all over the place and the author repeatedly goes off on tangents that contribute nothing to the story. For example, chapter six, which is mainly about making fun of faux producers, starts with almost six pages detailing the history of tabloids. While interesting and well researched, the digression takes attention away from the main narrative. With tangents like this occurring throughout the book, the final product is a hefty 383 page tome that feels way too long and a story that's too diluted to be enjoyed.
Besides the structural flaws, the characters are too cartoonish to hook the reader. Over-the-top conversations and dialogues that seems to have been pulled from movies like Clueless make it even worse. Last but not least, some of these characters clearly stand for something, which in the ends takes away any interesting layering and representations the story might have otherwise provided. For example, Cortez grabs the crucifix that dangles from her neck every time the bad witches talk to her about Wicca. When the end rolls around and the good Christian wins, she even gives her monetary bonus to church, turning the whole story into a simple tale where good (Christian) triumphs over evil (Wicca).
Skip this one and look for magic elsewhere.