Non-Review: “The Infernal Lands,” J.C. Staudt

NOTE: Review book provided by author


I do a “non-review” when I couldn’t finish a book. I won’t review it on Amazon or GoodReads, but I don’t mind telling you here why I chose not to finish. There are too many good books to spend my time finishing a book that I can’t get into.

The Infernal Lands (The Aionach Saga Book 1), by J.C. Staudt, is a post-apocalyptic epic. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me.

The description reads as though the author was constantly reminding himself to add more description, more interesting details, just… more. It goes too far. In the interests of keeping descriptions fresh or new or exciting, he seems to have forgotten that just because two words are synonyms doesn’t mean they have the same connotations. Those descriptions regularly miss the mark. Broken bones ‘rasped like a bag of seashells’. Someone is described as being of ‘nubile age.’ Someone has ‘just the right amount of nose for his face’. The basic attempt is to be lauded, but this is a bit like opening up a bag of spices and pouring the whole thing over your dinner instead of seasoning to taste. It calls attention to itself and sometimes jerked me out of the narrative.

A number of new terms are introduced. This technique can make the reader feel the setting more intimately. The words need to be fairly obvious in context, and again should be used with restraint. Instead they’re all over the place and sometimes don’t come with the necessary supporting context. It feels as though the author is being coy, trying to dangle world-building details in front of us for too long without delivering on the whole.

At times there isn’t enough attention paid to consistency. One character says to another: “Look at you and that sad-sack, sorry-for-yourself, mopey look you always get.” The problem with this is that the ‘mopey’ character just took a nasty javelin wound and had his ankle broken by a horse stepping on it. The idea that mopey would cover that situation is ridiculous. Daxin, the character that was hurt, seems to waver back and forth as to whether his injuries impede him a little or a lot. Dialogue often goes on too long, particularly given that it can be rather boring.

There was a chapter that I enjoyed, involving sacrifices, rites, bodies… but it’s a rough gem. My e-reader tells me I made it through 10% of the book, and to be honest that’s only because I refuse to set aside a book until I’ve read at least that 10%. I think the author has some skill and talent, but needs to learn when and how to rein things in.

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