December 14, 2014

Cinderella and the Ghost by Marina Myles

I know I usually write posts that are glowing five-star reviews of books I've enjoyed, because I'm lazy and busy and don' have the time to write up something full of complaints. If I don't like a book, I don't finish it, and in my mind, it's unfair to review a book I haven't finished. I guess I could start a flounce list along with reasons why I stopped reading, but that's another post for another time.

Someone once told me that negative reviews are important, because I'm  saving others from reading bad books.

Now it seems I had to take that person's advice. This had just about everything I despise in a romance novel. I have to say, I'm horribly disappointed

I love NetGalley, It gives me a chance to sample all kinds of different books. I was browsing there when I happened upon this cover:

Isn't it striking? I love a good cover, and this one didn't have half-naked people wound around each other. The picture made me want to read the summary, which is what a good cover should do.

When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!

The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete€™s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that shes met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella€™s dreams

NOW I was intrigued, so I submitted my request later that day. I was excited to read about the cursed prince, but it all went downhill from here.

Here are the three main problems I have found in this book

1) A lot of telling, no showing

This is a huge problem in many books but especially in romance.

Telling me he is handsome and how pretty she is and how tormented she is by her life is NOT character building. You as an author have not given me reason to sympathize with her, nor have you shown me why he is desirable.

There are sentences like, "He is absolutely perfect." No! Just, NO! Please stop. It's torturous and makes for a tedious read. When an author goes on and on like this, it makes me skim to find when the hell something is going to happen. That is something you never want the reader to do, because they are pulled out of the story. Long, vapid descriptions of the hero's eyes and his perfection is not compelling storytelling, Not to mention the whining about how miserable she is and how terrible life has been to her and how she has no self-esteem and if only something would come along and save her. I have notes in my kindle version that include "get therapy" and "seek help"

Also, repeating it does not make it so! Aquamarine was used ten times in the book, nine of which was to describe his eyes. And it's a short book! Her eyes are described as Lapis, and her hair is ivory. Ummmmm...okay.

My other issue on this topic was the repetitive drilling into the readers' head about how miserable her life was with her evil step mother and stepsisters. Of course with it being a Cinderella book, I expected some of this, but I would have preferred a new take on it. Perhaps a humanizing of these characters or showing me how they were nonredeemable. Instead, we have Ella grousing about it to the point where she sounded bitter and whiny.
random Channing I found when googling "frustrated"

That is the difficulty with taking on something like Cinderella. It's a delicate balance. She can either be taken too far one way where she is a cross between a doormat and a saint, or she comes off as whiny and bitter.
I love my google

For these issues, a good pre-reader who tells the author to knock it off, would do the trick. And you as the author need to listen to these trusted people. A good pre-reading team and editor are not there to blow smoke up your ass. They believe in the writer, but they are also there to kick your ass, and book, into shape. They want you to present the best of yourself, and the best of your work.

this is what google gives me when I search faithful

2)  Continuity Errors

This is what a pre-reading team and editor are for. The writer is too close to their own work to catch these issues. The problem with continuity errors is that it disrupts the vision in the readers' mind.

3) Superfluous, Distracting Story Points

The main thing to me that could have been left out is (SPOILER ALERT) Ella was raped. First, it was not dealt with well, since it didn't happen in the story itself but before the story began. Again, this is a delicate issue.

Having a rape survivor in a book with some erotica needs to be handled better. In my opinion it was not handled well at all. It was just brought out to make the reader feel some sympathy for Ella. It did not work with this reader. To me, it was just piling on more crap. It didn't drive anything in the story. When I pre-read for others and come across something like this, I always ask the author, "What does this do to drive the story? Does this have a point? Is it needed? If not, get rid of it and expand on something else. There were so many places that could have been fleshed out, Things that could have been made beautiful with the right treatment. Sadly, these were ignored.

google is confused I typed in pleading and this is what I get!

This story idea had so much promise. It could have been something fantastic. In my mind, I had at least a dozen different scenarios as to different avenues the story could have taken. It would make a great writing prompt for a contest or writing practice.

In the end:

I felt no attraction to the cursed Prince

I felt no sympathy for lead female

I am horribly disappointed and would love to see someone take this idea and fix it


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