In Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card, Quentin Fears is a reclusive 34-year old virgin obsessed with his sister who died when he was eleven years old. He marries a woman who reminds him of his sister, but appearances aren’t what they seem. Quentin needs to uncover the truth about his new wife, her strange family, and a mysterious wooden box before an evil force is unleashed into the world.
Up until now I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read by Card, but Treasure Box was a dreadful disappointment in more ways than one. I rarely don’t finish a book, but I came extremely close to doing so mid-way through. (To those who already heard this tangent, my apologies.) On the surface, Treasure Box has a good plot. Between the covers, it starts slowly before eventually speeding up to a climax, and not a very good one at that. The writing falls short of what I’ve come to like about Card’s writing, including a beginning that doesn’t chug along. It’s considered horror-fantasy, but it’s more like fiction with horror and fantasy elements. What humor exists in the novel was akin to poor delivery of bad jokes.
Card’s writing comes off as blatant preaching, more so than in anything else I’ve read, including his Biblical fiction Rebekah. Among the anti-homosexuality remarks, Quentin swears to his father he’s not gay. He also makes a big deal about saving sex for when he’s found the right woman and they’re married. Adding to the holier-than-thou attitude, the morals of properly using power are visible through the story’s themes and Quentin’s thoughts, actions, and statements. While driving during a severe snowstorm, Quentin sees a beacon of light, a brilliantly lit Mormon temple. By the way, Card is a very devout Mormon. The topper is the ignorant attitude towards Paganism. Not only does he group Satanists and Witches together, Card also compares those who Witches hold in their hearts to Hitler. Card writes:
The idea of witches calling upon the dead, sending succubuses to sleeping men, collecting macabre body parts from people they knew, all of these must have had roots in true incidents. Even the stories of witches worshiping Satan…for what might happen if this beast that Mrs. Tyler talked of should succeed in taking control of an adult body? There were plenty of people who worshiped Hitler. Caligula made himself a god. What if the beast took over some poor devil of a druid? What would that look like to people who didn’t understand what those witches were doing, or who the man they worshiped really was? For the lifetime of the man it inhabited, the beast might well make witches into his personal slaves, holding bacchanals that would fit even the most bizzare medieval accounts. Witches, succubuses, dragons, the devil” (277).
Even when previously mentioning the Wicked Witch of the West, there’s no mention of the good Glenda because there couldn’t possibly be anything good about Witches and Pagans. Basically, the story comes off as a soapbox for Card to preach.
Treasure Box left behind such a rancid taste, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pick up another book by Card again. If I do, it won’t be until next year at least and I’ll stick to his older sci-fi works. I might also just finish the Ender series and call it quits on Card. I’m a bit conflicted because although I really disagree with Card’s opinions, I’ve liked his writing up until now, in part because his views weren’t so bloody blatant. I could deal. I’ve been thinking about the writers I support and why and he’s not one I can support in good conscience. Then again, I only buy his books secondhand anyway for that reason. I usually have a hard time parting with books, but I’ll be dumping the preacher’s box as soon as possible.
On another note, the rant brought to mind a song written by a far-from-evil Pagan as a response to a stalker who thought he was Jesus:
My made-up mind was not put here for you to change
You think that I am your lost cause, so beautiful and strange
Minding my own business ’til you criticized my friends
It’s on now, time to go now. Let the heresy begin.
and so I’m screaming
Go away god boy, your gospel doesn’t work on me
You’re pestering a goddess, here, I was blind, but now I see
You’re stuck inside your holy head, you think that you’re in love
Just Go Away, you lamb of god, before I have to crush you like a bug…