Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice

It was the beginning of December, deeply cold and gray, with the rain pounding as always, but the oak fires had never burned brighter in the vast rooms of Nideck Point.

A mindless weather report hoping to establish setting, mood and atmosphere but bores instead. There's a footnote explaining how to pronounce Nideck but who cares? I mean, is pronouncing it properly in my head when reading important to the plot or something? Oh, and before chapter 1 there is a The Story so Far bit, which of course I ignored. That's cheating. I judge a book opening on its own merit and this one fails. Incidental weather doesn't hook. I don't understand why that is so difficult to understand - and so avoid.

First thing said:

"I'm not doing nothing."

This is dialogue of things said once upon a time and not part of a forward narrative. One might think back story is important in a series book and on page 1, but it's not. Think about it. Those who are reading the series already know this stuff, and those who are picking this up mid series without a clue don't care yet; in either case readers want the story of this book first - on page 1, starting with sentence 1. At least I do; not a fictional history lesson. Of course, many series books can't stand on their own no matter and no how, which is a weakness, as if each series book has had a lobotomy and each piece of the "story" brain is scattered through time and space, or whatever.

As usual with a writer of this calibre, the hook is in the byline, as evidenced by how much space the author's name takes up on the cover.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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