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theinsomniacreader

The Insomniac Reader

Books and snarky commentary inspired by insomnia induced reading marathons.

 

 

The Vampires of Vigil's Sorrow - Cassandra Duffy This author has potential. Then somewhere the story lost its way.

Sometimes she can write. There are even times when I'm impressed by her descriptions and her social commentary. She can jump from different time periods without it being awkward most of the time.

And then somewhere she lost me. I think it happened somewhere between trying to figure out who Rebecca and Aldridge were and rolling my eyes at a description of Debbie's laugh.

Oh and the typos. And the weird sentence structures. And nonsensical word usage. And the missing parts. I paid money expecting a book and ended up reading a student's first draft.

Here's the thing. I am not a very good editor. Just not a skill of mine. I'd rather just enjoy the story. It was just so obvious that even I could notice the flaws. And that really doesn't say much about the writer.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

"The mental trauma of the moment that clearly buried the memory for her own protection snapped back on her, and Debbie fainted sideways onto the porch swing, making a soft landing on the jacket and teddy bear. Her parents awoke her the following morning, and as Debbie assumed, used the jacket and teddy bear as proof that the whole scare of the day before must have been a product of too much excitement and sugary snacks at the fair."

This character's name is Debbie by the way. Debbie faints on the porch swing. You know, the kind you find outside. Somehow her parents don't find it weird to discover their daughter unconscious outside? Did she come to before the morning and sneak back up to her room? Is sleeping outdoors the norm in this family? Nothing explains this.

"Both older gentlemen turned to look at grace in unison, as if to make sure the comment had landed."

In case this confused anyone, the older gentlemen were not looking at "simple elegance or refinement of movement". They also were not looking at "courteous goodwill" of any sort. They were looking at Grace, a character in the story, not grace a word found in the dictionary. I feel as though someone should have noticed that.

This one is my personal favorite:

"Grace screamed long and loud without any concern for damage done to her voice or ears. The scream was so real, so basic to human communication, that it roused both her parents within seconds, carrying the same message of fear to them."

1. I'm very glad that Grace's scream was not imaginary.
2. I don't know if screaming is basic to human communication. I mean, I guess I get what she is trying to say. Screaming is a pretty basic way to express things like terror, excruciating pain, anguish. Screaming was probably going on before language even formed, but let's not get all poetic and dramatic about it.
3. Maybe the reason her parents woke up when she heard her scream was simply because their daughter was screaming. It was loud, it woke them up up, it worried them. There had to be a better way to express this.

"They ran to her without knowledge of why she screamed..."

No shit. They kind of busy sleeping to know why she was screaming.

"Even in the harsh light of day, Grace was frightened. She left the lights on the rest of the night against her father’s wishes, and slept little or not at all..."

So did Grace sleep a little? Was Grace unable to sleep at all? Is it morning? Is it night? Is it still night and just looks like the harsh light of day because she left the light on?

Eventually Maggie came to collect her and it was truly a collecting as Debbie was well within a heartbreak that was certain to leave her exactly where she sat until who knows what would happen to her."

A collecting is not truly a collecting unless the individual you are collecting is well within a heartbreak that renders them incapable of movement. Don't believe me? Look it up. I bet you can find the information on it on Wikipedia.

"She spun to find source, spotting another shadow of a child, and then another, and another "

My correction: "She spun to find the source, spotting another shadow of a child, and then another, and another"

"She was reticent to even come to the yard at first, but eventually forced herself to stand in the same holes in the snow she’d made before."

That word just did not look right to me. I wasn't so sure at first because at this point in the story I was starting to doubt my grasp of the English language. Thankfully, my handy Kindle defined reticent for me:

adj. not revealing one's thoughts or feelings readily: "she was extremely reticent about her personal affairs."

Now here is the definition of hesitant:

adj. Tentative, unsure, or slow in acting or speaking: "clients are hesitant about buying".

Which word works better? I'll let you be the judge.

"It was Warren’s dog, and had made it to a ripe old age of twelve before finally needing to be put down to save on suffering."

To save on suffering? Like a discount?

My correction: "Warren's dog lived to the ripe old age of twelve before needing to be put down to end his suffering."

There. That's better. Actually someone else can probably think of a better way to word this sentence. Like I said before, editing is not my thing.

Having lived through the Great Depression, he viewed work as a scare commodity to be treasured and couldn’t imagine a reason beyond the one he had in that moment to pass up the chance to go to a job.

During the Great Depression, work was a scare commodity. Much like how right around election season, political campaigns resort to scarce tactics.

“I think you know,” Henry replied. “She’s been coming by nearly every night now for awhile now, wondering after my daughter.”

My correction: "She’s been coming by nearly every night now for awhile now, wondering after my daughter."

"He drove past a farm on the way home from work, spotting a sign he’d ignored for weeks that advertised a littler of puppies."

I actually had to look up the word littler. Not because I suffered from a brain injury. I just kept on seeing typos and nonsensical word usage and sentences that were kind of sentences but not really sentences. I was beginning to wonder if it was me. Maybe I'm the stupid one and the author is the one who knows it's actually a littler or puppies instead of a litter. I just couldn't tell anymore.

Once again, Kindle came to my rescue:

adj. small in size, amount, or degree (often used to convey an appealing diminutiveness or express an affectionate or condescending attitude): the plants will grow into little bushes; a little puppy dog; a boring little man; he's a good little worker. See note at SMALL.

You will note that the definition does reference a puppy dog that is little. But no where does this definition mention that littler is a word meaning "The offspring produced at one birth by a multiparous mammal." Do you know why? Because the fucking word for that is LITTER!

Then there are just moments when the writing, much like this review because I can't be bothered to get too in depth with this, is just plain old lazy. The main difference is that I'm doing this for free, the author is getting paid for this.

There is one point in the story when Grace, the one who screams because it's real and basic to human communication, tries to confide to Pastor Gunderson that she saw an evil entity outside her window and wants his guidance. Pastor Gunderson claims that Grace's moronic mother called him before the sermon and told him the story and that her mother is very worried that Grace is making the whole thing up, being an attention whore, and maybe starting to lose her grasp on reality.

I can't think of a moment in the story when Grace's mother had the time to do that. They had breakfast, they got in the car, they went to church, they immediately sat down and listened to the sermon. This was set in the 1950s, so there are no cell phones. No where did Grace's mother mention needing to make a phone call. Nothing leading up to Grace's talk with the Pastor indicates that her mother secretly made a phone call. It was just thrown in there because it was convenient. Why not let Grace explain her story to Pastor Gunderson and then let him accuse her of lying? Since Pastor Gunderson is an evil lying douchefuck anyway, it would make sense.

Then there's a point in the story where Grace is missing and presumed dead by her family. Henry, Grace's father, invites Pastor Gunderson over for dinner. This is the reaction of Grace's mother:

"Mrs. Corker was thrilled at having the company and even happier to see that Mr. Corker was the one to invite the pastor. Henry ate in silence, letting his wife and Pastor Gunderson talk as they felt necessary. When the meal was over, and the dishes washed, Henry asked his wife to give them their privacy to discuss a few things. She reluctantly complied, bidding them both a good evening before heading up to bed."

Mrs. Corker does know that her daughter is missing, right? I don't claim to understand what it's like to lose a child, but I'm pretty show being thrilled about having unexpected company is fairly unusual. Grace's mother isn't a prominent character, but no where in the story does it mention how she is coping with her grief. No where. She's hardly mentioned at all after Grace goes missing, and then she's busy playing hostess, and then she disappears again. There is no mention of how she's handling this tragic situation. There isn't even a poor explanation that entertaining guests is how she copes with grief. There isn't even a hint that she's doped up on all the pills a doctor will prescribe her so that she can't feel anything anymore.

There were more errors, but I think I've made my point. There came a point when I lost my focus. I couldn't really pay attention to the story, the plot, the themes, the character names. I was overloaded by correcting this author's work for free. To be honest, the story just wasn't interesting enough to redeem itself. Even without all the mistakes, the story read like a student's creative writing assignment published with the teacher's red marks and criticisms completely ignored. If it were just a bit more interesting, I could have forgiven all the errors. I could have forgiven the author for driving me so crazy I had to look up the word littler.

I repeat that the writer has potential. She has her moments. The story isn't awful. It could even be good. If she only took a moment to ask one honest person in her life to look it over.

Independent authors, you do not need to hire a professional editor if you can't afford it. Just find an honest, detail oriented friend. That's all. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Do not delude yourself into thinking that you are so talented that you don't need an editor.

Trust me, you do.