Jonathan Holt’s The Abomination is a difficult one to pin down. It’s richly plotted, expertly researched, and sharply written. Holt juggles myriad plot lines and reams of characters with ease. Mysteries upon mysteries unfold for the reader in a careful, well-manipulated manner that lets the reader speculate right alongside the characters without getting too far ahead or behind them. All of these things are great. What holds it back, however, is this sense of ick at its core. For his part, Holt tries to create strong women fighting a triumphant battle against deep-seated misogyny, but that is all undercut by the misogyny in the writing itself. Holt manages to hit the grand slam of strong female stereotypes: the slut, the bitch, the (presumed) lesbian, and the rape survivor. Furthermore, the two women at the center of the story are both young, attractive women who were just waiting for wizened men of authority to come along and woo them into better version of themselves. Holt decries the inhumanity of rape, but throws in an attempted sexual assault against one of his main characters for sheer entertainment.
This book is well-written, but it also feels like it was written for a different era. It’s trying to be thoughtful and progressive, but really it is just reinforcing tired stereotypes and using rape as entertainment.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.