Getting under the skin of the reader

Every writer desires that their work will somehow affect the reader, getting under their skin as it were. In fact, sometimes bad reviews are preferable to good ones if the writing has made the reader frightened, sad, angry, offended, or otherwise provoked them.

Occasionally I read reviews of my work that clearly demonstrate I have achieved this. For example, here is an Amazon reader, David MacGuire, reviewing my novel Children of the Folded Valley:

Folded Valley cover

“I generally review only the books that I really love or hate passionately. I neither hate nor love the book, it has its flaws, but the story has stuck with me. This is a good, original story. The concept and characters are engaging and appealing. There are places where the writing gets a little thin, but I hope to see many more books by this author. It has a happy ending, of sorts, and yet left me profoundly depressed. I think it was that the author hit it right on the head; even in a perfect paradise, people are going to be perfect s***s to each other, given half a chance. Even so I recommend it.”

Here’s another negative review of Children of the Folded Valley on Amazon (by “value for money”) that strikes a similar tone:

“Saying I enjoyed this book would be wrong. I found it disturbing, distasteful and fascinating all at the same time. This is the first book I have read about cults such as this and although it is a work of fiction the content is all too real. Read it if you will but to me there is enough sickness in the world without reading fictional tales of it.”

Mr MacGuire’s review sounds as though he is still struggling to figure out what he really felt about the novel, which I am pleased about because it demonstrates the story got to him. As for “value for money”, to be told one’s novel is “disturbing, distasteful and fascinating all at the same time” in a two-star review is actually a great encouragement.

So thank you both, David MacGuire and “value for money”.

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