Sunday, August 9, 2020

Review - Beautiful Demons

Beautiful Demons (The Shadow Demons Saga #1)
by Sarra Cannon
Date: 2010
Publisher: Dead River Books
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 186
Format: e-book

Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I recently discovered that there's a particular species of vlogger on YouTube: the self-published author. I've been watching some of their videos, which talk about the nitty-gritty of writing as well as the publishing process. Having recently been impressed by Abbie Emmons' 100 Days of Sunlight, I thought I'd give another one of these self-published YA novels a try. This time, I picked the first offering from Sarra Cannon, the first in a very long (I think it's up to 10 books now) series.

One of the things that all of these self-publishers emphasize is editing. You must hire a professional editor, according to them. I see in the credits at the beginning of this book that Ms. Cannon did, in fact, use an outside editor. However, that doesn't mean that this is a well-edited book. In fact, as it went on, it got worse and worse, to the point where it was very obvious that I was reading a self-published work. (I shudder to think what the draft provided to the editor looked like, if this was the final product.) There were misspellings, punctuation errors, and lots and lots of continuity problems. Simple things like the main character's position in a room and whether she was sitting or standing offered points of confusion. At one point, we get the following passage:

Ella Mae had told me I cut my hand on a piece of glass when I passed out in the bathroom that night after I got back from the police station. She said I'd been holding a cup of tea and when I fell, it broke.

(This was later established to be a teacup, so the glass reference really should've been caught.)

The plot itself is representative of the cheesy vintage YA that was popular about a decade ago. Harper Madison isn't like other girls. (Seriously. That's the first line of the blurb.) She's a foster kid with a troubled past who ends up in a mysterious town where nothing is what it seems. Every single guy at the high school is tall, ripped, and gorgeous (boy, did I ever go to the wrong high school!) and the girls are variously catty, scheming, or mysteriously quiet (possibly hinting at more character development in later installments). The plot gave me a "chosen one" vibe, but of course Harper is kind of oblivious, to the point where the reader might want to smack their own forehead while shouting "Duh!" At one point, she loses her memory, which leads to a confusing last act of the book... mostly for the reader. Her memories are conveniently selective, meaning that some of the twists and turns can be spotted by the reader a mile away. Then we have to wait for her to catch up.

This was a freebie, and it's a short book, so I'm not that annoyed at having to slog through the badly edited prose. It's interesting to see the variations in quality among self-published books (especially when the authors in question have YouTube videos wherein they present themselves as knowledgeable about writing, editing, and publishing). I would be curious to see how Ms. Cannon's writing has improved over the last 10 years... but I'm not quite curious enough to continue with this series. The concept doesn't really excite me (although I can see it appealing to other readers).

Premise: 3/5
Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 1/5
Originality: 2/5
Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall Rating: 2.25 out of 5 ladybugs

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