Here be Dragons

Like many who own a Kindle, I have been known to download a lot of books with no interest in reading them because they are free.  You know, just in case.  When searching through a forum I grabbed this one despite, or maybe because, the author was quite obviously sock-puppeting (shut up Microsoft, it is a word!) to push his self-published book.   Stuck in town; and with nothing but my phone’s Kindle app handy, I fired it up and gave it a fair go.  I made it half way.

The author has some basic story teller abilities.  While very trite, the quality of the ideas behind this book would hold up as a simplistic, by-the-numbers young adult book.  After all, this is not the first author to use the farm boy who takes on his destiny trope.  There was even an early scene involving a predator leaping right into a time-status field that was pretty intriguing.

But without some serious work the book will appeal to almost nobody.  A recap of the beginning is in order.  Orphaned shepherd Zam meets mysterious man, who passes on A QUEST then disappears while Zam’s head is turned.  He is then freed from his masters service by the master’s son, because the son had a dream and knows he should have been nicer the young shepherd.  Zam heads north, with no knowledge of what his quest really is.  He enters a town where he actual mentions to the first person he meets that he is on A QUEST.  After one day of archery practice(because he knows nothing about archery or sword work) he decides to take on a dragon.  Guess if he succeeds, I will wait.

The simplistic plot is problematic, but not the real issue.  I would have continued reading if the plot was simple but decently written.  But the dialog was terrible.  The main character spoke to himself, out loud, in completely unbelievable ways.  Example, on his way to save yet another damsel in distress he is saved from one predator by another.  His first thought?  “Were it not for that bird, I would be dead now, and Raine would never be rescued.”  No time for a “whew,” our Gary Stu Good Boy only thinks of others. 

Every single character had ESP or something like it as well.  Almost no conversation between characters didn’t involve them ‘just knowing’ some important detail about the future or the past.  A young girl KNOWS Zam is going to save her later, Zam paints a families lost daughter while trying to paint her mother, and old man can JUST TELL that Zam is trustworthy when first meeting him.  I could keep listing examples.

Lastly, this paragraph… will be written… as every paragraph in the entire book was… that is with excess… punctuation.. and pauses for effect.

Wrote more than I meant to for a DNF, but that is because there was enough there to prove the author could have something here.  As I said, with a lot of reworking the plot would make a good, easy read YA book.  But as is, it was not ready for release.

1 Star. 


Comments on: "Fantasy Review: ‘Through the Dark Wood’ by Geno Allen" (3)

  1. Nathan,

    Harsh criticism can be a writers best ally. I discovered your review on Good Reads and was disappointed that you hadn't actually finished. But, I appreciate your honest review. I always try to see what I can gain from an individual's critique of my art (be it writing or other). Two things spring readily to mind from your review.

    First: “By the numbers YA book”
    It may be that my listing is incomplete because I did write this book intended for young readers (with the obvious hope that readers of all ages would enjoy it).

    Second: My use of “…” the ellipsis
    This is where distinctly critical critique can be helpful. As I am working on book two, I'm finding I really like the ellipsis. As a former theater guy it makes the pacing of a sentence more like I would want to hear it read, but I also noticed it can be a little Captain Kirk-esque, “Scotty… press the… button… that… kills the bad… guys.”

    Probably would have never paid much attention to that. Some of it has been addressed for the release of the paperback and I'm more cognizant of it for book two. So thanks!

    Two more things I'd like to touch here really quickly:

    Sock-puppeting is at least a fun word. So, I agree, “Microsoft, shut up.”

    Sock-puppeting is something I have not done. I did write one review for my father in-law because he's not the type to write things like that, but I interviewed him first and included things I wouldn't have put if it were just me making it up. But, either way it doesn't matter because Amazon deleted it. Lesson learned.

    From the date of your review it looks like you may have had one of the messed up copies I blogged about (if you bought it before December 24th). If you have any interest in finishing the novel (doubtful, I know) I'd be happy to get you the most up to date version.

    Anyway, thanks again for your helpful criticism.

    Geno Allen

  2. As a reviewer and want-to-be writer, thank you. I wish I could preface every negative review with an “I am sorry,” because the fact is anyone who has put together a complete book has done a lot more than me. I review them as I see them, but obviously I am criticizing something I have never been able to do myself. So I have nothing but respect for you and fellow author's work, and is why I do my best to point out the positives I see even in works that don't work for me.

    The one thing I have learned while doing this is there are some that will agree with me, and some who will not. I hope at least one or two people were curious enough to see if I am right to try out your book.

    As for the sock puppeting, if I am wrong I am sorry. Someone was doing a very good job of it for you on SSF forums, which is how I came across the book. I have never rewritten a review, but I appreciate the clarification and will obviously leave your comment here as a rebuttal. =)

    Thank you for stopping by our modest blog. And once again, best of luck to you, and hopefully you will be encouraged by the fact that I had some of the same criticisms of Michael Sullivan's incredibly successful books(of which I couldn't finish the first one), so my opinion doesn't always run with the mainstream.

  3. Nathan,

    Thank you for your kind words. And, good luck in your personal writing endeavors.

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