I don’t usually come back twice in one week, but I have some news that’s too good not to share.
Before I tell you what they said, let me put this in context:
I’ve been through the editorial review cycle a couple times, and I’ve watched many friends and colleagues go through it, too. Editorial reviews are tough. Magazines like Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal are big hitters; they do not judge books lightly, and it is not an easy task to please them.
A “positive” editorial review consists of a summary of the novel, several sentences about the book’s flaws and shortcomings, and if you’re very lucky, a couple words about the one thing the author almost managed to do right. That brief, bright moment in an otherwise mediocre assessment is then extracted from the review and used to market the book. It’s the three-word phrase the reader is bound to see on the book’s back cover or the author’s web site. Phrases like “utterly gripping” and “seductively well-written” that sound impressive out of context, but often refer to one moment in the book that the reviewer perceived as a welcome statistical anomaly.
For this reason, any author who receives an editorial review must brace herself before reading it. She must take a deep breath, pour a glass of brandy or reach for the chocolate, and then remind herself before reading that this is an editorial review. The reviewer will not gush. The reviewer will not glow. The reviewer will politely summarize the book to prove they read it and then he or she will grudgingly admit there was maybe one thing they kind of liked about it.
And if there is one thing an editorial reviewer kind of likes about a novel, that constitutes wild success.
I knew the Kirkus review was coming down the pipeline, but I didn’t expect to see it for at least another month. So when the notification showed up in my inbox yesterday, I hesitated before opening it. After all, I’ve been feeling down lately. Could I really summon my thick skin mode to take whatever criticism Kirkus would undoubtedly dish out?
Well, you know what I decided. I drew that deep breath, and I dove in.
I’m so glad I did!!
I’ve never received such an amazing editorial review. Part of me still can’t quite believe what I read. Part of me still thinks, “Did I understand this correctly? Is that really my book they’re talking about?”
My favorite moment from the Kirkus review:
“…the story’s greatest triumph is Gastreich’s prose, a consistent blend of lyrical verse and dark imagery…”
Wow! My prose was a triumph. A triumph, they said! It doesn’t get much better than that, but then they went on to say:
“Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.”
Lush! Evocative! An unforgettable journey! That’s my story – my story – they are talking about. omg omg OMG!!!
Sword of Shadows, further described by Kirkus Reviews as “unhurried but engaging,” is praised for its versatile characters and relevant social themes. Rishona is even mentioned as an admirable villain – another wonderful moment for me, since I worked hard to strengthen the portrayal of her character in this second edition.
So there you have it. Proof positive that sometimes taking the plunge is just the ticket to a happier moment in life.
This made my day, my week, and quite possibly my holiday season. After all the negativity I’ve been struggling with lately, that one review was a welcome ray of sunshine. And I’m very grateful for whatever coincidence of fate brought it to me a month ahead of schedule.
Haven’t had a chance to dive into Sword of Shadows yet? Curious to find out more about this “lush,” “evocative,” and “unforgettable” journey? You can order your copy today from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.