Friday, April 23, 2010

Christine Feehan - paranormal at its worst?

I'm currently reading Christine Feehan's Dark Symphony (Jove Books 2003). It has some of the poorest narrative prose I've read in a long time: "The fog was the perfect cover for the predator as he moved silently across the sky, searching for prey" (1). Wordy and overly dramatic. If he's searching for "prey" than "predator" is redundant. Succinctness can carry drama and does a better job than trying to be dramatic. Here is another example of this not so wonderful prose: "He had even gone so far as to purchase several CDs and a machine on which to play them, keeping his purchases deep beneath the earth in the lair he kept to be close to the woman he knew belonged only to him" (3). Snort. The phrase "deep beneath the earth in the lair" is cheesy paranormal fiction. Fan writers generally get that some things are too cliché.

Feehan obviously has readers since it's easy enough to find her books. I can't help but wonder who the return readers are. I understand picking one of her novel's up, the back was promising, but this is one time I wish that I had read the first few pages. If I had, you would have been spared this post and I would have been spared the type of prose that gives formula writing its bad name.

Feehan's work is the paranormal variety of dime store romance novels. No one who reads and actually enjoys writing or a good story would pick her up a second time if the writing doesn't get better than the first few pages of Dark Symphony. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with an Elizabeth Lowell or Nora Roberts (romance) or even a J.R. Ward (paranormal romance - not the best but okay even if the stereotyped gender roles are irritating) but don't go so cheap on me that I have to endure poor writing just because I like a formula romance - or in this case formula paranormal romance - once in a while. Lowell and Roberts can write. Feehan can't.

Okay after just a few pages, maybe I shouldn't judge. Who knows it might improve. I will persevere through this one novel but that's the one chance she's going to get. I suspect that she has some hooks in her material, i.e. good ideas, but I sincerely hope she can deliver the goods and actually tell the story so that somewhere along the line I forget that I'm reading cheap prose and get caught up in the story itself. So far, no joy.

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