Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry

The sun was rising slowly, splashing red light across the river.

What else needs to be said? What else can be said? Great opening line. Filled with conflict, tension, pathos, drama, horror, love, character, and of course setting. It makes you tremble, it makes you want to read on. It wastes no time, and tells the reader that this is going to be one of those books you won't put down, one that you may never put down; a book you'll carry onto death, insisting on being buried with it, to spend the rest of eternity immersed in the sweet suffering of that opening sentence echoing in your soul for all eternity.

The rest of the paragraph describes rowing a boat on the Thames in 1864. Oh, and there's a comparison made between the red light of the rising sun and blood or wine - foreshadowing via simile. 

I was at a loose end or would have stopped reading, and then - a miracle: a hook that begins the fourth paragraph; yes, we have a hook:

The scream came again, shrill with terror, and suddenly a figure appeared, black against the shadowy outline of the sheds and warehouses on the embankment.

If only the book started with that line and then followed with back story and plugging previous books in the series. It wouldn't be too hard with the copy and paste feature on most word programs. But some writers who write series get lazy, relying on previous work and previously hooked fans. It's shameful, and there is no excuse. I suppose it makes it hard for these types of books to succeed on this blog, but thems the breaks. One of our rules of reviewing a novel that's part of a series is that we cannot have read previous books of that series, or we may be falsely hooked going into the review and be biased. Each book and each opening must stand on its own.

The only thing that saves this opening from being honored with an Epic Fail is that first line of paragraph four. But, by God, if anything deserves an Epic Fail medal, it is the first line of A Sunless Sea.

First thing said:

"What is it?"

Verdict: Fail

Rudy Globird

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