Buried within this reflection on my reviewing practice is a review for the novella: The Curse of the Owl by Qatarina Wanders.
There’s this in-between where I often struggle with reviews. It’s important to me to maintain a steady level of integrity. I’ve lost a few fellow indie authors’ support by offering 3 stars instead of the 4-5 stars they seek. I think there’s some kind of unspoken agreement about that, but I just can’t abide it. Especially when giving 3 stars is already a reach. I want you to come here, see what I had to say about a book, decide to read it based on that saying, and trust I was honest. If you go into a book and find I over or under-stated, you won’t come back and see what I had to say.
I don’t know if readers don’t consider books rated under 4 stars. I will. Three stars to me means: good book, worth it. 4 stars is great, and 5 is couldn’t put it down, stuck in my head, changed my life kind of story. Sometimes I’m a little looser with the last, but all of this means 3 stars is still a good book. All that said, I understand that’s not a view everyone holds, so sometimes I go 4 if I’m hovering at 3+.
This is something that happened with my recent read. The Curse of the Owl starts with pages of info dumping. Paragraphs of explanation between single lines of dialogue. I recognize it because it’s a thing I’ve just learned not to do (in that, I have done it, and now recognize to not do it). It’s also a point I find with many indie authors doing it on their own (of which I am one. I don’t have the budget for legit editors, so I make do with reader feedback and numerous go-overs). My point: indie books are often published sans the final few edits. This doesn’t make them bad books. It definitely does not mean the stories aren’t good. It just means the ratings are always there, which doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading.
For The Curse of the Owl, I left this review:
This fast read is fun and interesting, with a unique take on the supernatural world I am curious to learn more about. With a pair of kick-butt protagonists, I found the stakes real and relatable. There is definitely enough here to turn into a full-length novel. While I found the front 40% a great heap of info dumping, the action sequences through the back half were exciting and page-turning. This novella seems a great set-up for the main series I have added to my TBR.
I understated and over-stated, just a little, all the things I said I wouldn’t to maintain a level of integrity. If I wasn’t reviewing this for a service, I would have put it down in the first few pages. That thought alone should warrant this short book unworthy of 4 stars, yet that is what I gave it. The ending did pick up. It was exciting. There were multiple cool action sequences. It’s a prequel to a series about the daughter and niece of the characters told here. Like so many indie books, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted more. I wanted everything to get developed and told, not just washed over.
Happy Reading 🙂