Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Water Witches

By Chris Bohjalian

Scottie Winston is a lawyer in Vermont and one of his firm's major clients is a local ski resort. Times are rough in the ski industry, what with competition from the big Western resorts and with the drought that Vermont has been suffering through that has reduced the amount of snow on the ski slopes. Lots of resorts have gone under. But the local resort has plans to prevent their own decline. They want to expand the ski trails, build a new ski lift and expand their snowmaking capacity. Of course, all these plans will have an impact on the surrounding wilderness, and most especially on the nearby river the resort wants to tap to supply its snowmakers. The drought has seriously depleted the river and locals and others are afraid that if the resort is given the go-ahead on the snowmaking, it will cause the river to run dry. Not to mention all the trees to be removed for new ski trail and parking lots and all the other development the resort wants to do.
Scottie is kind of caught in the middle. On the one hand, the resort is a major client and Scottie believes in the economic benefit the expansion will bring to the local community. But on the other had are his wife, his daughter and his wife's friends and family. Because Scottie is married to a water witch, and his little daughter is a fledgling water witch and his wife's whole life and family are tied to and involved with water witches and water witching and they are all up in arms over the proposed ski resort expansion. How can he please both his clients and those who are closest to his heart?

The first two thirds of this book were really interesting and enjoyable, reading about Scottie's odd family and relatives and water witching. But then it gets bogged down in politics and protesters and legal battles and it got really boring really fast. The author drags the main character's little girl into the legal battles but that just wasn't enough to make it interesting again. And I felt the whole business about the cougars was kind of contrived and, as before, it just wasn't enough to make that part of the story as interesting as the part about the water witches and Scottie's family.

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