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.”
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?