Saturday, March 22, 2008


It's generally seen as bad form for authors to comment on reviews (especially negative reviews) and I agree. In fact I've only ever commented on a negative review once before, when a reviewer posted misleading info about the publisher involved. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion on fiction, and I can learn from that. This, however, fascinated me.

2 reviews. Same book, different book?

On the bright side, this book is one of those that you shouldn't worry too much about falling into the hands of teenagers that you fear are too young to read adult materials because while Saskia Walker also writes erotic romances, this one with its perfect positive sunshine figurehead characters can be read by young kids without having to ask their parents embarrassing questions about the main characters' coital antics. For me, though, while this book is well-written, my issue with it is that it is probably too much like a fantasy story for very young adults for me.

Same book, different book?

While this is Walker's second romantic fantasy, Walker is no stranger to the writing world. She also writes erotica, and it certainly shows in this book. The intense desire felt by Elishiba for Amshazar is tangible, and the sex scenes (despite some purple prose here and there) are definitely hot. There's also the lovely touch of sexual culture in this book. Both Karseedia and Aleem have their own practices and freedoms. Karseedia trains nubiles in the sexual arts, but keeps them as slaves. Hanrah also turns out to be homosexual, and in love with one of the nubile promised as a gift to Elishiba. In contrast, Aleem seems to embrace a number of sexual freedoms. Elishiba is no blushing virgin. She's already been involved with the head of the Immortals (Aleem's elite guard) but has had to distance herself from him due to the arranged marriage. Her handmaidens, the twins, seem to embrace a certain playful, sexual freedom as well, especially when it comes to the seduction of one of the nubiles, Kerr.

There's heterosexual sex, homosexual sex (or at least boy-on-boy action), and masturbation of both the male and female variety. That's a lot of sex. ;)

I bring this up because for whatever reason, the freedom taken in this book was a welcome relief. Walker doesn't treat sex as any sort of taboo in this culture, nor does she make a big deal out of the sex scenes there are. Oh, sure, Hanrah's mother is furious over his relationship with Kazeen, but not because she's homophobic, but because he's the Emperor and must produce heirs. In some ways, this book reminded me of a far less complex version of Kushiel's Dart. Well, without the pleasure-as-pain comparison.

The first is Mrs Giggles on Unveiling the Sorceress (full review here) and the second is by Shara Saunsaucie on Unveiling the Sorceress (full review here.) You can read more reviews here. I'm interested in both reviews, and glad to have the chance to read them. I learn from every comment I get. You wouldn't think it was the same book, though, would you? I guess it's all about viewpoint, where the reader is coming from, and that's important for authors to keep in mind when taking on board what reviewers have said about our work.

It's snowing here today, not very Spring-like at all. Keep warm, and have a great Easter weekend!


Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, isn't that strange? It does seem as if the two reviewers have been reading an entirely different book!

It just shows what a subjective art reviewing is, doesn't it? And how different people focus on different aspects of the book. I had something a bit like that with an Amazon review for one of mine recently. A reader seemed hung up on a relatively minor plot point that I would barely have registered if the book had been written by someone else and I'd been reading it.

The snow has stopped here in my neck of the woods... so hope it's clearing up where you are too! :)

Breeni Books said...

I think the second review was more accurate. I don't think this is an issue of opinion, but fact. Conservative parents would not want this book falling into their kids' hands. There was definitely sex in Unveiling the Sorceress and the comment about it being a sexual culture seems appropriate. I'm baffled.

Saskia Walker said...

Wendy, it’s a bit of mystery tour some days, isn't it. I guess we can never predict how or what a reader will find interesting and/or strange. We all approach a book with a different life experience in hand, and that's the key. Best not dwell on it too much or the world might seem a scary place ;)

The snow mostly melted but is back in force again now. The cat is not happy :)

Saskia Walker said...

Breeni – thank you! I feel out of touch with what goes in YA these days. I do know they have changed a lot, but that was how I was feeling about it too and I just wasn’t sure whether to say more on the subject. Mark suggested I point out that I don’t recommend it as a YA book, in case anyone thinks that’s my own endorsement. tbh I'd be happy if all my books had an adult content warning, especially if the word “erotic” isn't mentioned in the cover copy. But that doesn’t seem fashionable outside of the UK. Mrs G does mention the story made her sleepy, so maybe the book bored her that much she slept through all the sex. :) I appreciate your comment!