The Mahogany Door by Mark Boliek is a YA adventure with some supernatural stuff. The title and summary don’t make it clear what it’s about at first, but be assured there’s some magic involved.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
The title’s good, and it has great cover art considering it’s a smashwords indie. The real reason I picked it up though is because of a quote from the book placed in teh summary: “His emotions erupted.” More than just being insufficient writing, it just makes me visualize a little kid hulking out like Goku from Dragon Ball Z.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
Despite the summary quote, I’m up to chapter 3 and things are going pretty well. The story is framed as an oral tale told to the narrator’s great grand children at a family reunion. The writing is solid and free from typos as far as I’ve seen, plus there’s a good story here.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
The spoken word tale works to cover up some literary shortcuts–you wouldn’t speak using such imagery as you would write a story, so you can tell and not show, and cliche’s which are taboo in literature are fair game in speech–but it’s a minor complaint as it is more likely how a spoken word tale would be told.
That said, the narrator’s voice sounds a little unlikely at times. He admits to never having told a story in public, yet his dialogue sounds like he’s writing an essay on mythology. You get used to it, but it struck me at first.
The only other complaint I have, and it is again minor, is I feel the narrative breaks are overused and inconsistently used.
The author will periodically insert this symbol:
Between two sections of text of varying sizes and, while it’s not terribly distracting, I don’t feel it serves much purpose.
Okay, just one more criticism, not with the novel itsself but with the summary: it doesn’t tell you what the book is about. A note to everyone writing novels–your summary is just as important as the rest of your novel; don’t shortchange it or readers will get confused and leave your book alone!
This is a great book for an indie; the author plants subtle hooks, has a strong if unexpected voice, and has spent a great deal of effort in editing for a polished narrative.
Don’t let the confusing summary dissuade you–pick this one up!
Have you read Mahogany Door? Then let me know in the comments!