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Just in case, when you read this letter, you get irate because it appears I judged this book on an incomplete reading, I DID finish it. And it didn’t get any better. Of course I never received a reply to this letter (and I didn’t expect one—was sure, in fact, the editor would be too cowardly) but I doubt a young reader would be treated the same. So, come on, if you don’t like a book you have just read, send a letter to the publisher. Of course, you will have to give more detail than the simple statement, “It was boring”. You will need to tell the publisher why it was boring. Publishers will continue fobbing off young people with poorly written books if you don’t stop them!

See here for more examples of bad writing in Warriors of Alavna.


letterhead of my letter to Bloomsbury
16 May 2001
 The Editor
Warriors of Alavna by N M Brown
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
38 Soho Square
United Kingdom

Dear Editor


        I’m finding it hard to believe a big publisher like Bloomsbury accepted this book. Of course, I have to believe the evidence of my own eyes! But if you wanted another Harry Potter you could surely have found something better by digging further into your slush piles. Warriors of Alavna is not just bad fantasy but plain bad writing—the sort that gives fantasy a bad name.
        The book’s beginning—“Dan watched with horror as Ursula was swallowed by the yellow mist”—immediately rings bells of alarm in the minds of discerning readers, and things don’t get any better as the chapter progresses. Editors are always telling beginner writers to “show, not tell!” So why was the author of Warriors of Alavna, whose style is very much that of a beginner, not told to rewrite this chapter so readers could feel Dan’s horror and (later in the chapter) share Ursula’s hurt at Dan’s jokes about her height and weight—the supposed reason for her running away from him into the yellow mist?
        The short sentences (presumably deliberately short in order to aim the book at as wide a share as possible of the Harry Potter market) are neither simple nor elegant—just downright choppy and dull. There are also too many run-on sentences. There shouldn’t be any.
        I don’t know that I have the stamina to finish Warriors of Alavna , even to find out if the structure and plot are as bad as the unbearably dreary syntax. The clumsy opening scenes lead me to expect they will be every bit as bad. Since writers (even new ones) normally work harder on the first chapter of a book than on almost any other, I’m assuming this chapter is the best writing in the whole book. I’m certainly not handing Warriors of Alavna on to the young readers in my family circle. Unfortunately, disposing of it at a second-hand shop won’t recover even a quarter the money wasted on it.
        Children are still developing good taste and deserve (no, need) the very best literature. It’s unfair of editors to take advantage of their lack of discernment by fobbing them off with anything less. I certainly expected better of Bloomsbury.
 Yours sincerely 
 Laraine A Barker 

© L A Barker Enterprises
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