THE dumbest thing I have ever read

Maybe this will spur me on to get back into reviewing. (This and the silly email I had from Goodreads saying I’m in the top 1% of reviewers – which I daresay anyone reading this who’s ever left more than two reviews on Goodreads also got.) When requesting a book on Paperbackswap a while back, I checked the poster’s shelf to see if there was anything else I might want. For some reason – possibly a vitamin deficiency, or lightheadedness from some other cause – I added this book to my request:

Wizard’s Daughter, that is, by “New York Times bestselling author” Catherine Coulter. This is a woman who has been writing forever. The “also by this author” page at the front of the book is double columned, smallish print, full. Goodreads lists “107 distinct works”.

None of that really means anything to me; my new favorite author has available exactly one novel and one novella (Elin Gregory, for the record). I know mainstream romances tend toward the dreadful; I once wrote a letter after being stuck on my break at work with nothing to read but a borrowed romance. I read about thirty pages, and it was a two-page letter. (You’re not surprised, are you?) So why did I request Wizard’s Daughter? I’m a sucker for the words “romantic fantasy” (or “fantasy romance”). I know better. I do. It’s just that they always seems so promising – like a cupcake with creamy icing piled high.

Then you find out the baker used salt instead of sugar and the cupcake is like cardboard.

I titled this “THE dumbest thing I have ever read”. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you’ll know I’ve read some stunningly stupid things. I’ve gotten myself into attempting to read some ARCs and Netgalley books and LibraryThing Early Reviewer books that were not quite half-baked, which needed a few more months in the oven.

But this. This wins all the prizes. This is, legitimately, hands down, the most absurd, dumbest, silliest – well, I’ll prove it.

It was going along in mediocre enough fashion; it was repetitive, and tell-don’t-show, and heavy-handed, but I was mildly curious. I’d pick it up and read a couple of pages now and then. (All right, I admit: it was my bathroom book.) Then came page 43, what I can only assume is a dream sequence (I’m not reading further to find out):

“An old man walked toward her, his long white robe brushing his sandals…She saw large white toes.”

Now, I need to break in here to question that. My eyebrows quirked when I hit that line. I don’t believe in the hundreds (thousands?) of books I’ve read in my lifetime that I have ever seen toes mentioned in the initial description of a character – unless maybe it was a girl with painted toenails? I don’t know. “Large white toes” just seemed a bit outré.

But back to the description.

Waaaait for it.

“He smiled at her, his teeth shining as white as his toes.”


Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as toes.

Toe White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“NYT Bestselling Author Catherine Coulter”.

Which of those is the most ridiculous statement?

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6 Responses to THE dumbest thing I have ever read

  1. Helen says:

    although I know the name I don’t think I have ever read anything …… I have been going through my overloaded bookcases by re-reading series that have resided there for quite a long time. Some I have thoroughly enjoyed for a second or perhaps third time around & have no trouble imagining why I have kept them all these years. And then there are others which I cannot explain ` for instance a trilogy in which not one blessed character can grin or smile without this description or a variation thereof “his/her mouth curled up at the corners” …forgive me but my mind’s eye kept seeing the Grinch ;>0 …………Grandson Marcus will be 5 months old in a couple of days – time sure does fly …

  2. Beatnik Mary says:

    Agh! You’ve burst my bubble over the Goodreads top 1%! Why, Stewartry, WHY?

  3. calmgrove says:

    Ungh! Ditto Beatnik Mary! I kept wondering what the phrase meant: the top 1% of Goodread reviewers? in quantity? numbers of likes? numbers of comments? Or perhaps quality? Have they actually read my ‘many thoughtful book reviews’? What’s thoughtful? One that doesn’t go ‘Meh’?

    Or … is it just a cynical self-publicising gambit: ‘a vibrant place for book lovers’ made up of ‘more than 20 million members’?

    And Christine Coulter. Is she like her namesake Mrs Coulter in His Dark Materials, literally cutting away the soul from books? And why are the covers of these books (page after page of them offered for free for review on Goodreads) apparently more professionally produced than the what’s inside?

    And Helen, your wonderful comments about smiles in a certain trilogy – you’re not referring to Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician sequence are you? I wrote something about this in a review:
    “Equally wearing are the little verbal tics that the author indulges in: when a character dismisses a private thought they shrug; when the High Lord is faintly amused a corner of his mouth turns up; when anybody is appraising anybody else their eyes narrow. There is consequently a lot of eye-narrowing throughout the trilogy.

  4. Hey! I got that email from Goodreads, too. I was scratching my head over that one too.

  5. stewartry says:

    I didn’t mean to burst any bubbles! I just assumed since I don’t have the “top [whatever] reviewers” thing on my GR profile that the email meant that out of the millions of people who belong to the site only 1% are very active. We ARE the 1%! We rule.

  6. Damn straight! Rock on with your bookish self!!!

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