After only writing four “non-reviews” in the history of this blog, now this is the second time this week. Ah well. I hate giving up on a book, but I also dislike wasting my time on something I know I won’t enjoy. Frustration occasionally wins out, particularly when I can tell early on exactly why I’m not enjoying said book.
I’m starting to notice a pattern in the books I end up setting aside without finishing. Many of them feel like very meticulously-planned-out books. This isn’t inherently bad (outlines can help many authors to write great books), but a good outline isn’t enough. An author who’s concentrating too hard on sticking to an outline and getting from one bullet point to the next can end up with rushed pacing, too-flat characters, or inconsistent details—I can’t be sure that’s the source of the problem in the case of these books, but it certainly looks that way to me. In the case of Maureen Child’s Bedeviled, I felt there was some element of all three problems.
But first, the back cover intro text, to give you an idea of what’s supposed to be going on:
Maggie Donovan isn’t interested in overthrowing a Faery queen. Maggie has had barely enough time to kill the demon that devoured her fiance, never mind save the Otherworld. Her hands are full babysitting her smart-mouthed twelve-year-old niece while her sister is getting her chakras lined up. But when Maggie comes home to find a scrumptious hunk who insists she has Otherworld problems to solve, she may not have a choice. Especially since she’s suddenly been endowed with super-human strength and a bad habit of flying awkwardly through the air…
An elite Faery warrior, Culhane isn’t exactly boyfriend material, but that hasn’t stopped Maggie’s wild imagination. What Maggie doesn’t realize is that there’s one secret the sexy warrior hasn’t revealed: He’s already bound to the powerful Faery queen he wants Maggie to defeat.
Child seems to be trying for an Esther Friesner sort of humor in Bedeviled, but instead the characters all too often come across as inappropriately flippant. Maggie might have been about to break up with her boyfriend, but it still seems bizarre when she barely mourns his bloody passing.
The male lead is stiff and flat. Some romance authors interpret “stoic warrior” as “wooden”; it always ends up reminding me of all the jokes about Keanu Reeves’s acting.
And last but definitely not least, a bunch of details just don’t add up. The female lead drives home with her fingers still glowing from an infusion of power. On the way home she picks up her young niece from school, who even manages to hand her a cell phone without noticing that her fingers are glowing?! Before that Maggie contemplates going for a mocha at Starbucks to help her relax, without apparently considering that, say, everyone in the store might notice her fingers glowing.
When Culhane first shows up in Maggie’s home, she notes that he’s tall enough that “his head nearly hit the ceiling.” But when her powers begin to activate later and she floats up to the ceiling, when he approaches her she’s afraid he’ll look up her skirt, which implies she’s suddenly several feet above him—not possible unless her house has grown like a plant in the meantime.
And let’s not forget that after a highly bizarre encounter in which both Maggie and her niece witness Culhane exhibiting paranormal abilities just after he breaks into their home, the two of them banter over homework that evening as though nothing at all odd has happened.
These are just the most obvious examples. What it comes down to is the feeling that the author is so busy concentrating on getting to her next bullet point that she isn’t stopping to think about the details. And that’s all within the first 40 pages—I didn’t have the heart to read past that.
I’ve come across a lot of Maureen Child’s books while browsing my favorite used book swapping sites, like http://www.bookins.com, paperbackswap, bookmooch, etc., and finally gave her a try. I think she’s definitely a “writer” instead of an “author” and I hold writers to lesser standards than I do authors. Her books are a good, quick read but the plots don’t stand up to close scrutiny!
I certainly am a huge fan of Maureen Child’s books. i bought few o them when I had my first baby and really did enjoy it my self 😉 Thanks for the awesome article. Cheers
Thanks for the interesting post. I am also a big fan of Maureen Child’s books and love everything she writes. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.