Friday, January 15, 2021

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

 I accidentally put a hold on The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle instead of the book with the same name by Kira Jane Buxton.  So be prepared to soon read another review of a book with this same title.

Do you remember that in the first season of American Idol there was a second co-host in addition to Ryan Seacrest named Brian Dunkleman? I kept thinking about him whenever I'd look at the name of the author of this book?  That's probably unnecessary for you to know, but I want you to know my every thought about the books.  

One sentence summary: A girl gets kidnapped by a goblin and becomes his bride, but later on she saves the goblin race. 


This book.

Look, I'd been on a bit of a tear and hadn't finished like three books before this one came into my life. I was determined to finish this book because I was starting to think my brain was incapable of completing any projects.  But to be honest, I probably would have just put this book down after the following paragraph from PAGE 9:

Gracious and white-haired, Celia Whitaker beamed across the dinner table at her great-nieces, and Kate and Emily Winslow smiled shyly back. The girls were grateful to find a smile at the end of their journey.  It had been a hard two months.  Their father had died suddenly. By scrupulously legal tradition, his house and lands near Coventry now belonged to his nephew, the next male relative, and this man had refused to become their guardian. The Hallow Hill estate belonged to Kate from her late month, but she had never visited it. It had been rented to another branch of the family for generations. Now Kate and her younger sister were coming home to land a relatives they had never seen. Hugh Roberts, a bachelor cousin of their mother's, had become their legal guardian, and the two great-aunts, Celia and Prim, had agreed to raise the sisters. 

So much boring exposition. And that just keeps going on.  Huge, giant paragraphs that are nothing but boring exposition dumps.

Look, I'm not much of a writer. I write here, I write very boring emails, and I write letters to my my relatives. I don't write fiction hardly at all, but here's my reader's take on how to fix this mess.  You start in medias res, with the dinner scene.  As there are interactions among the characters, you introduce the relations.  OR.  Maybe you just go around the room or table, introducing the players.  You don't just start with a giant boring paragraph about legal guardianship!  

Here's the rub. One page 103, the books gets interesting.  The exposition dumps (mostly stop) and it's action and interior monologues.  It turns into a bit of a page turner. 

As the (purely fictional) editor of this book,  I suggest Dunkle delete the first 102 pages (maybe I will allow the prologue to stay) and just start the book on page 103 and use the action to explain all those details that were introduced so clumsily in the first section of the book.  You don't even need to rewrite that dinner scene at all because we're going to take it out!

Since we're doing this major overhaul of the book, we can actually deal with the emotions these orphaned girls might be dealing with - the loss of their father, their school mates, their home - instead of making them robots who think logically about all their feelings and reactions.  We can also learn more about the goblin race and what it is that the girls do in the goblin world all day.  The last part of the book is great about plot, but now we need to sprinkle in character development.

So.  I won't be recommending this book to anyone. But I finished it, figured out what I didn't like about it, and managed to (purely fictionally) fix it so that it's a better book,  and that feels like a major accomplishment for me these days.  

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