I won this short novel as part of a book give-away Katja, at Coffeemugged.net, ran as part of her Great Summer Read Giveaway. The premise spoke to me: A modern Canadian man whose sister is abducted in the wilds of Cambodia and the lengths he goes to retrieve her. The oblique angle of the story is that there is a Mystic on par with Carlos Castenada’s Don Juan who will open this man to his hidden strengths and lead him to find his sister–as improbable as that would seem–six months after her disappearance.
For all that promise, down to the very intriguing tribal mask on the well-done cover, this book reads like a first draft, rushed out the gate without even a basic grammar and spell check.
It was so distracting to be in the middle of a gripping scene and then read that a character was “scrapping” pieces off a bone. And that particularly harrowing scene ends with “inard” juices dripping down the main character’s chin.
For the first chapters of the book it wasn’t even particularly clear to me why this man was so attached to his sister that he would be willing to drop everything and chase her down in the remote areas of Asia. For that matter, how does a guy who’s teaching languages have enough money to keep getting on trans-continental flights? These are all questions a good beta reader or, more importantly, a good editor would catch–and guide the author to fix.
The bones of the story make it worth finishing, but make me mourn what the polished story could have been. And lends credence to the worry that reading an indie author/publisher means dealing with an inferior product. If you aren’t going to hire an outside editor, or make use of the built-in dictionary and grammar checkers available in all mainstream word processing programs, at least become friends with Strunk & White, a very short volume worth memorizing by any aspiring author.