Woman Scorned by Angela Alsaleem

Woman Scorned was sent to me at the same time as Cemetery Club, so I must admit that my expectations were incredibly high. Angela Alsaleem has been writing for some time, yet chose Woman Scorned as her debut novel. Does this tome exhibit the true power of all that is woman, or is the reader left feeling scorned?

After Camilla is murdered, an ancient spirit possesses her, to use her body as its tool of vengeance. Tortured by visions of murdered women, she is thrust into a world of terror as she seeks a way to rid herself of the nightmare she has become.

Where to begin? Woman Scorned is all over the map with what it sets out to achieve. The opening premise is strong: a girl gets brutally murdered and her soul seeks revenge. I have a feeling that if Alsaleem had stuck with this relatively simple premise, the book would have been much more focused and easier to read. Instead, we’re given an occult backdrop that still could have worked – a ghost-human buddy story that was sweet at times, but was rather confusing early on. (At one point, only Libitina could interact with Camilla, but when the killing began, all of Camilla’s victims were able to see her.) Add in the two bizarre ideas about occultism, and I must say that I was mostly confused while reading this book.

The Good

Libitina is one of the most well crafted characters in the book, and her scenes are the most clearly laid out and useful in advancing the plot. Alsaleem did force Libitina’s inner turmoil a bit, but it’s a good representation of the mindset that the aide of a supernatural killer might have.

Aludra is actually an antagonist throughout much of the book, but her quest to find Camilla and the spirit contained within her is a good representation of the antihero theme that I believe Alsaleem intended. Aludra is vicious, focused and calculating, with a heap of sadism thrown on top for good measure.

“Come sweet death.” The death scenes in this book are wonderful. Some are drawn out to torture the victims, while others are quick and vicious. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of anguish that Alsaleem is willing to put her characters through regardless of how minor they may have been.

The Bad

The Order of Nine story arc is far too drawn out and seems to have two focal points that don’t connect well with each other. They pledge to worship Merlin (the wizard), however they operate as a Satanic cult that are actually ruled by Satan. Too much conflicting info for this reader, and the ritual took far too long.

Continuity is a huge issue for me, so this may be more of a personal gripe. Libitina is very much human, and must eat and sleep. The story takes place over two weeks (I believe) and it is only in the first week that Libby eats anything or sleeps. During the second week, sleep is mentioned twice, eating only once. That may seem a small point, but the second week is basically a survival trek through the woods, I didn’t feel like she was in much danger of starvation at all.

The Weird

Who are you? I’m sorry, in the last chapter you were called something else, and the page before I swear you had a different name. Many of the supernatural characters have several names, though not always by design. I found it very hard to focus on the story at times because I didn’t know who or what was in the scene.

Gore. I’m usually very happy when someone gets their eyes ripped out, but Alsaleem has used gore as a descriptive feature rather than a definitive end to one of the characters. Yes, the initial eye-ripping had me excited, but then I was reminded about it nearly every chapter and it got less special. Less is gore would definitely have been appreciated.

Belly button light show! I have no complaints about them at all, I thought it was worth mentioning. They also serve a purpose and stick to it, I just enjoyed the anatomical placement.

Overall, I really expected more from Woman Scorned. There are elements that I did enjoy, but overall the errors and inconsistencies really stopped this from being a hit with me. For more information on Angela Alsaleem, visit her website. To purchase your copy of Woman Scorned, visit the JournalStone store.

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