Marriage proposals. Many women dream of them, but not during the middle of the night by some drunkard. They were a common occurrence for her— her mother that is.
Claire Tanith stood at the bottom of a flight of rickety wooden stairs in her kitchen and yawned. She really didn’t get enough sleep for this. It would be different if she was actually the one being proposed to for once, and if he was a prince coming to whisk her off her feet. But she wasn’t, and they never were. They were always the bottom-of-the-barrel men, the ones no woman wanted to court, let alone marry.
Her mother Marion was a legend in their small town of Stockton. She was the sole owner of the Blazing Stallion tavern, and a single mother, raising Claire up all on her own. With hair the color of flames, an hourglass figure, and porcelain skin, not to mention a lively spirit to go along with it all. She was the most beautiful woman in town, and the most sought after. All her life Claire had been woken up in the wee hours of the night as drunken men would come back and try their luck, asking for her mother’s hand in marriage, but they would always leave empty handed, sometimes with a bruise or two . Or on even rarer occasions, a bloody nose and a night in the town jail. If there was one thing Marion was above anything else, it was proud. Her and Claire didn’t need to be taken care of, they were doing just fine on their own.
Odell, Casey (2012-07-21). Cursed (Cursed Magic Series, Book One) (p. 1). . Kindle Edition.
I picked this up as a Kindle freebie today, thinking I might try reading some fantasy for a change. From someone I know nothing about, a book I've read nothing about. No hype, no antics, no tantrums, no socks, no squees. Nothing.
J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the reasons I flunked out of college the first time. One of the minor reasons, to be sure, but still. I stumbled across the Ballantine Books edition of The Fellowship of the Ring sometime in 1966 or '67, when I was at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and proceeded to devour that book and its companions in The Lord of the Rings. I lost several days of studying and homework, and I probably would have flunked out anyway, but why not blame Tolkien since he's not here to defend himself?
Anyway, I fell in love with classic fantasy as a result, and went on over the years to read many more in that genre. My attempts at writing classic fantasy have never been very serious; I like reading it better. But I like reading it when it's well written.
So after the whole brouhaha over you-know-who and the secret daughters, and a brief online discussion about why adults read YA and NA books, I thought hey, what the hell. I need some breaks from the day job, so let's see what's on the freebie fantasy page.
I picked up half a dozen or so freebies. (I'm poor, and they're there.) I liked the looks of this cover, and the book had lots of ratings on both Amazon and GoodReads.
I couldn't make it through the first page without screaming.
Three paragraphs. Page 1. The first three paragraphs.
Two incomplete sentences. One comma splice/run-on sentence. Too many wases, too many woulds. Too many sentences that just didn't quite make sense. Close they were, but just not quite. Still, I was willing to deal with that. Incomplete sentences aren't so bad, and I use them myself often enough for emphasis or when they suit the stylistic considerations of what I'm writing.
The pronoun error, though, was more than I could take. That's too basic. That's too terrible.
And this is what I mean when I say I often can tell before the end of the first page whether this is a book I'm going to enjoy . . . or not.
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to get lost in it. The formatting looked good, with nicely indented paragraphs and a clear serif font. But there they were, the grammar flubs, just so huge and so blatant and so . . . so damning.
The front matter of the book lists an "edited by" but that no longer means anything. Proofread? Maybe. But usually a competent proofreader will catch things like that pronoun case error. Oh, right, there's that word "competent." Never mind.
No stars. Maybe, when I'm less sensitive to crappy writing, I'll go back and try it again. But don't hold your breath.