Review: Incubus


Incubus by Ann Arensberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I hesitate when choosing whether to give this book one star or two. None of the author’s books have very good ratings, which is odd. She’s a good writer. There are beautiful passages in here and intelligent treatments of the supernatural. In fact, her protagonist uncannily resembled Ginny from A Thousand Acres, the sexually frustrated, intelligent, passive aggressive housewife. I agree with the other reviewers here that the main reason this book was no Pulitzer winner like Jane Smiley‘s was too much detail. The book oozes with unnecessary scenes and minute descriptions of the surroundings. I skimmed pretty liberally and still felt like I absorbed the meat of the story. In that sense, it was simply over-written. But it suffers from a worse problem: there is no discernible narrative. The Incubus came, frustrated and puzzled people, and they came together to be frustrated and puzzled in forums, then the book ends. There is no climax, no denouement, no resolution; there is only exposition and description.

Having said that, I am amazed that after skimming a boring passage, the author could hook me all over again with an engaging one. Usually, books that start off or become bad stay that way, but this author constantly dug herself into a hole and back out of it in cycles. I wish she could hone that ability to create engaging, beautiful prose and use it to produce a fully fleshed out narrative novel.

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Victor A. Davis has always loved reading and writing short stories. He is an avid hiker and even when away from the world of laptops and wifi, keeps a pocket paperback and a handwritten journal to keep him company on trail. He is the author of two short story collections, Grains of Sand and The Gingerbread Collection. Join his Mailing List for special announcements about upcoming works.