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Enoch’s Folly by Jamie McNabb

By Underheather @UnderHeather

WHAT?! Two reviews in one week??

Yes, it’s a twofer this week, because I love you guys and because I had to get this review off my chest before I exploded. Enjoy!

P.S. I received a free, signed copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

So I’ve been putting off this review for weeks. I hate writing negative reviews, especially when an author has been kind enough to send me a copy of their book. And in this case I even volunteered to review the book, so I really have no one to blame but myself.


If this author had looked at my blog before sending me a copy, like I asked him to, he probably would never have sent it to me. Let me tell you why.

Enoch’s Folly is supposed to be a tale of family conflict. Alastair “Mac” MacNaughton takes a dare with his uncle Chauncey, with whom he has a certain competitive rivalry. The dare says that if Mac can complete the unfinished houseboat his grandfather began, he will gain the houseboat and the attached property. If he can’t complete the project in the designated amount of time, his uncle keeps the houseboat and the property and gets Mac’s townhouse. Throughout this narrative is a winding, mysterious sub-story about a mythical river dragon who develops special relationships with the women who have come and gone on this family property.

At the outset, that plot description sounds, at the surface, pretty freaking boring. But the depth of possibility for a story of family rivalry and the urban fantasy vibe of this river dragon was too much for me to resist. I had to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, the book turned out to be, at BEST, disappointing, at WORST infuriating.

First of all, the reason for this rivalry between Mac and his uncle is literally never explained. There’s just a surface-level animosity that we’re supposed to believe, even though neither character is very well developed. In addition, for a book where the central plot surrounds the construction of a houseboat, that work was hardly ever talked about! Although there were some interesting twists and turns, the plot seemed fairly lazy and undeveloped (although I did enjoy the detail with which the nautical lifestyle was described). Instead, the entire book is filled with the main character’s outrageous and unfounded complaints about how his wife ‘has him by the balls’ or some such nonsense.

Only, the thing is, I think that I was meant to agree with this dude about his wife. When he made a bet that forced her to move out of her home during the middle of an important work project, without asking her, we’re supposed to agree that she’s a bitch who doesn’t support his dreams. Almost everything his wife does, he complains about and makes weird assertions that just don’t have any support in the plot. If that’s not bad enough, at the end of the book, Mac’s relationship with his wife is rescued when—get this—she accidentally listens to a dog-therapy tape and turns animal-like.

So, my takeaway from this is that any woman who asserts herself or demands to be included on decisions that affect her is a crazy man-hating bitch. The only good woman is a woman that acts just like a dog and whose brain has turned as simple as a dogs.

When I initially finished this book, I was so infuriated I almost burned the damn thing. Are you kidding me with this? It’s almost enough to make me think that this book was just written as a way for the author to exercise his issues with women (or maybe an ex-wife). There’s not enough plot other than this horrible hyper-masculine idiocy to make me think otherwise. What’s your deal, Mr. McNabb? What could possibly have been going through your mind when you sent this to a FEMINIST book blogger? Are you trying to piss me off for funsies, or do you genuinely not see how offensive this book is to women?

I don’t mind a book that explores marital issues, and certainly don’t expect female characters to be perfect. But the problem here is that Mac’s wife just didn’t show the flaws that Mac was whining about. If that was done on purpose, it wasn’t done well.

So, basically, this book is well-written, and had some interesting potential, but I just couldn’t get past the ridiculously misogynistic dump this author took on his own plot. I don’t recommend it. Despite this initial experience, however, I will be keeping an eye out for his future work. Maybe he didn’t realize how women might react to this plot, or maybe he wrote this as a cathartic exercise of some sort. Not that that would excuse it, but I’ll be interested to see if his next book takes a different turn. He’s a good enough wordsmith that I think he deserves a second chance. Although after this review he might not welcome another review!

It’s not personal, Mr. McNabb: I think you are a talented author. The subject matter just made me choke.

Jamie McNabb writes in several genres, but concentrates on science fiction, fantasy, and sea stories. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of print and online publications. After way too many years spent in the information-technology racket, Jamie McNabb moved to the Oregon coast, where he lives within sight of the Pacific Ocean. When not working or pounding on a computer keyboard, he sails, runs aground in the bay, and waits for the tide to come in and lift his boat clear. He also reads and feeds the gulls. For more info, visit his webpage.

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