Thursday, May 5, 2011

Conjure Wife, by Fritz Leiber

I would describe this as the horror equivalent of a nice cozy whodunit. A nice cozy horror novel.

The basic notion, as handed to us by Leiber in an early chapter, is: "Picture most women as glamor-conscious witches, carrying on their savage warfare of deathspell and countercharm, while their reality-befuddled husbands went blithely about their business."

This was published in 1953, and at first I thought some of the ideas being tossed around were meant to be satire, but towards the end when the protagonist (a male college professor) is able to get a leg up on the Big Bad because the Big Bad (a faculty wife) doesn't understand symbolic logic, I had to shrug my shoulders and roll with it.

There are some violent scenes and a few good scares in this novel (it is horror, after all), but nothing too gory. If anything I'd want Z to wait till she's older on this one to be sure she doesn't take the nonsense about women being more primitive and irrational than men to heart. But in all it was well written. I enjoyed it, wound up rooting for the protagonist, and would cuddle up with it again on a rainy day with a mug of cocoa.

Age I'd let Z read it: 16

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