As of today, Emma Right has found a place on my DNR list after two almost cartoonishly rude posts targeting reviewers in general–and particularly those of us who have posted negative reviews of her books.
The first was a blog post from September 11, 2013. It contains a thinly veiled attack on this specific review from another author; she names no names, but the context clues are more than enough to figure out that this is the Dutch-speaking individual whose review she’s bemoaning. It’s pathetically rude, and while I documented the post, I did not yet add her to my DNR list.
Today, I have. I was pointed in the direction of the Amazon page of her newest book, Dead Dreams, and it contains the most hilariously confrontational, offensive, and self-defeating “description” I’ve ever seen in my life.
My rating: ★☆☆☆☆
A copy of this book was provided free via Netgalley for the purpose of review.
Unfortunately, the best part of Keeper of Reign is the cover.
This just wasn’t ready to be published yet. As far as I’m concerned, the writing is definitely not up to publishing standards. Events occur in obscure, vague text that the more easily confused reader will inevitably be baffled by, and the story is underway before the book’s fictional world is properly established. There’s talk of curses and Books and creatures called Scorpents, but there’s no explanation of what any of these things actually are until long after they’ve been important plot elements. Characters are introduced with only a first name to identify them; if you want to know who the heck they are and what exactly their relationship to the rest of the cast is, you have to go back to the “Character List” on the page before the prologue. But don’t expect it to be accurate; according to the Character List, the LI is the daughter of Saul Turpentine, whereas when the story finally mentions who the heck he is–which happens about ten chapters after his introduction, in case you’re wondering–it turns out he’s actually her grandfather.
The writing is weak in technical aspects, too; it’s quite amateurish, reading like something I would expect to find free at FictionPress, not for sale on Amazon. The author doesn’t waste a moment on explaining the world in which the story is set, the writing itself is comprised of sentences like “Erin let out a gasp and brought a fist to her mouth,” and, “Afraid he might forget the Majesty’s visage, Eleazer’s eyes flitted to the King’s face and drank in the dark brows, the high cheekbones, the soft lips.” Both examples are just clumsy and odd, offering excessive description to things that don’t matter in a book that doesn’t spend enough time addressing the things that do, and this is stuff that an editor should have pointed out and corrected. (I mean, really. “Brought a fist to her mouth”? C’mon.) Worse yet, there are frequent grammar errors; most are missing commas that don’t affect the flow of the story too terribly, but at other times, there are entire sentences rendered nonsensical by missing words. (“Would I put something sharp like that to cut myself up?”, for example.)
Most important, however, is the incredibly vague world-building. All throughout the book, the author introduces fictional terms, items, and historical events, none of which are explained until long after the first mention of them; obviously, this makes for some incredibly confusing reading. After having finished, I still couldn’t tell you a thing about the “evil overlord” character’s origins, what exactly a Scorpent is, why the Books were so special, or how the apparently magic lanterns worked; the author never bothered to say. All throughout the story, it felt like she had simply forgotten that her readers are supposed to read her book, not her mind; I could tell that she’d done the world-building, but it didn’t make it from her imagination to the page until long after it was needed.
Ultimately, I can’t recommend Keeper of Reign and won’t be continuing on with the series. While it had the potential to be an entertaining fantasy book, the author just didn’t have the writing skills to back it up. Alas.