Ever wonder if you have integrity? I just had to.
I'm a real reviewer these days. I have made eighty-three cents from this blog! And just recently I got my first review copy. That's right, I got a free book, just so I could review it.
59426354X:Product Link on Barnes & Noble.com.
Of course, I'd like to encourage that. So I'm highly motivated to give the book a positive review.
And I can't. Apparently I have integrity.
I really wanted to like the book. I've even briefly spoken to Ms. Ackley-McPhail at Philcon. She seemed nice, and she's a friend of my friend Dave. But it just isn't a good book.
It's possible to have a great opening with the heroine lying motionless. For instance, she could be afraid to move because of the monster under the bed. (This would work better if the heroine is a small girl.) She could be unmoving because she's desperately trying to remember the name of the man lying next to her. (This would work really badly if the heroine is a small girl.) However, in this case she's lying in bed feeling sorry for herself because she's poor. I'm afraid that just didn't arouse my interest or sympathy so much.
In fact, one thing that greatly slows the pace of Yesterday's Dreams is the tendency of all her characters to walk on stage and then stand, sit, or lie around and muse on things. The elf, the dad, the street thug, and the Big Villain—they appear, and then just stop and reminisce.
When I started reading I had the distinct impression that the book had never been professionally edited. Then I became sure. Encountering a strange old woman in Greenwich Village, our heroine, Kara thinks, "... the woman must be a bit touched in the head to leave offerings to the faeries in a New York alley. If there were any place less magical than Faeryland, Kara would have a hard time naming it." In that fragment are four errors. One, "faeries" should be capitalized if "Faeryland" is. Second, it screws up the meaning of those words. The land is called "Faerie". The people that live there are the "Fay", not "faeries". Kara has accidentally thought of Faery as the least magical place that can be named. (I think Ackley-McPhail meant to write "New York".) And of course, why is this woman raised in Twentieth Century New York using the anachronistic "a bit touched in the head"? No professional editor would have let that sentence pass.
I don't want to make this a sort of vicious attack, so I'll just end by saying that this book is really only the first draft of a finished novel. Too many characters introduced too fast, strange pacing, characters who largely speak in a literate faux-Victorian manner even when they're street criminals in New York…there's actually a story under all that, but it's a real struggle to find it.
As with all but one of my reviews, I hope that the author isn't offended by this criticism, but like I wrote above, apparently I have integrity (and feel an obligation to my readers, few though they may be).