Our digital bookshelf is getting a lot smaller as we read all these books on our ebook TBR. Chris has sent in another review for a book called The Book of Songs by Louice Svedin.
Synopsis: Anne has led a privileged life: she is a weaver, a magic user, in a world ruled by the extraordinary. Yet one day it all changes. She is deemed too powerful by the aristocracy and is sent to a monastery for life. To avoid this fate she embarks on a journey, driven by a prophecy she doesn’t want to fulfill. But will she have any choice in the end?
Anne is also a thoroughly unlikable character with the temperament, emotional maturity and intelligence of an impulsive spoiled 13-year old. Maybe by book’s end she matures, but once I hit the 50% mark in the book I’d had enough.
This book has numerous problems. It reads like it was written by a 14-year old. It still has elements of the way a child tells a tale. This happened. Then this. Then that went away. Then this happened. Then something magic. And a big bird appeared. It’s like reading a description of a child’s dream. Events sometimes don’t make sense, they jump around.
Some of the issues are due to translating from Swedish to English. Characters groan in agony, except they’re not in any pain. Another one fainted with a disdained groan, but it was exhaustion, or possibly disappointment, not disdain. Other characters leer, but context indicates they’re not leering. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” (easy cultural reference).
Then there were the adverbs. A short cut to spotting adverbs is that many end in “-ly”. We have “He sighed dramatically”, “smiled sardonically”, “hissed condescendingly”, “said tiredly”, “said annoyedly”. Adverbs were legion enough to drown a herd of pigs (difficult cultural reference). Stephen King, in his excellent readable book On Writing, says this about adverbs in dialogue:
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs,… they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.” ….
Attribution verbs are also many: “Anne scoffed in annoyance”, “growled in frustration”, “growled in anger”, “groaned in agony”. King covers that too.
Some writers try to evade the no-adverb rule by shooting the attribution verb full of steroids. The result is familiar to any reader of pulp fiction or paperback originals:”
“Put the gun down, Utterson!” Jekyll grated.
“Never stop kissing me!” Shayna gasped.
“You damned tease!” Bill jerked out.
The best form of dialogue attribution is said, as in he said, she said, Bill said, Monica said.
Not that King always took his own advice, but before you break the rules you first have to know them.
However, the story itself fails in any language. There doesn’t seem to be any consistent rules for how the magic works. If moving the plot forward requires magic then there’s magic. If it requires no magic then there’s no magic, even though there’s no reason why magic couldn’t be used. Deus ex Machina.
Too many events are unbelievable even in a world where magic exists. Anne escapes by impulsively (ach, an adverb!) stepping out of a flying airplane, telepathically contacts a giant bird (she’s not telepathic, but the bird is—not that we even know about the bird yet) for a rescue. It catches her on its back before she hits the ground. There was no reason for the bird to be anywhere near the airplane much less keep up with it. The most probable outcome of Anne’s impulsive act is her eyes widen greatly as she growls in frustration just before she makes a new hole in the forest floor.
Why not call for the bird telepathically while still inside the plane; if it’s close (highly unlikely) let it get into position, and then Anne could step out. That way the poor bird doesn’t need to catch Anne at the last second of a 9.81 m/s2 free-fall (that’s 32 feet/s2 in antediluvian units) where Anne’s kinetic energy transforms them both into a jellied mess and an even bigger hole in the forest floor.
It seems each new page brings a myriad of questions and story problems. In the first page Anne disarms three weavers who attacked her (no explanation as to why or even how they attacked) by slowly taking out her flute and capturing them in a spell. They helpfully stand in place and let her.
Yet later in the book she tries to quickly grab her flute during a battle, but it is knocked out of her hands and she is captured.
Why didn’t the weavers tackle her while she slowly drew her flute? They had fired something at her back (magic, rock, big stick, gun?), but managed to miss while being just a few paces away. Did they just have one shot? Anne even slowly turned around to face them. Lots of time to tackle her while her back is turned—there’s three of them. Still lots of time to tackle her as she slowly pulls out her flute.
Or, soon as they missed their dangerous target then run for cover before she slowly turned around and before she slowly drew her flute.
Which raises another question regarding Anne—if someone fired something at your back and missed wouldn’t you spin fast to ensure they weren’t taking a better aimed shot, or doing a group tackle, or preparing to brain you with a big stick?
And what are weavers anyway? In the confrontation Anne threatens to remove their claws, but later they seem to look like humans or are they are humans, but also look the same as Anne who is, as we learn, is also a weaver or a songweaver or a human or all of the previous? And the whole school is a school for weavers so was it her own classmates trying to attack her? It’s as if the author had different ideas what weavers were, but instead of choosing one idea she incorporated them all into the story regardless of internal consistency.
And being a songweaver is something Anne wants to keep secret, but she weaves and uses flute magic quite openly, hence it is not a Sherlockian leap to deduct she’s a songweaver. Hardly a secret then.
I admire people who can sit down and write a book so I admire Louice for writing her book.
But please—and this is for all would-be authors—run your first draft by some friends or people whose opinion you trust. If they say “It has issues” (that’s polite talk for “It sucks”) then DO. NOT. PUBLISH. YOUR. BOOK! You do NOT want your name associated with a poorly written and poorly planned book that turns readers—and publishers—off anything you later write. Your next books could be good, but no-one will be willing to read them because your first book had multiple “issues”.
Book Rating: 1/5
You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in e-book format by the author to read and give an honest review.
Check out Lisa King’s brand new novel called The Vanishing Hour which is available now on Amazon! She is a Canadian author from London, Ontario and I am super excited to share the love on her new book! If you like post-apocalyptic books, then this one is for you!
You can buy her book here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B081ZHCPGF/
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Ever heard of Book Snobbery? Well, I did the Book Snob Book Tag and answered some questions regarding the topic. Check out the video below:
Interesting read. My latest two reviews if you fancy reading. https://monthlycritic.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/misbehaviour/
I will check them out!