Never Start in the Middle: Berenfell Prophecies Vol. II   Leave a comment

Venom and Song

The Berenfell Prophecies, Book Two

by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

I would really like to say something good about this book, for several reasons. The first is that I got it for free. For me, getting things for free is exciting and makes me want to like whatever it is. That wanting did nothing for this book.

I have a strict rule about series. I always start them with the first book. I read in order. It’s how I do things. I like reading things in the order intended. But when I joined the Book Sneeze program, this book was the only one available. I went back and forth about getting it, since it would break my rule, but I eventually decided that since I wanted a book to read and I wasn’t sure how often they put new items up, I’d get it. Big mistake.

I knew I was in trouble when I was greeted with a two-page cast list at the front of the book. Now, I have read the Wheel of Time books and yes, there are a million and one characters in those books and there’s a glossary of characters with the pronunciations of their names. But it’s tucked politely in the back as a resource, not required reading before you get started.

I skimmed the cast list, but none of it meant anything to me, since I hadn’t read the first book and it’s hard to try to familiarize yourself with characters from a list. But when I got to the actual book, things didn’t go much better. One of the first things you are told as an author of a series is that each book must be able to stand alone. This one, most certainly, could not. It started in the middle of things, which is generally considered a positive. But it didn’t go back and fill me in on what was going on. Things just kept plowing forward. They were walking and recovering from a battle and then they were being attacked and then someone else was watching, and I couldn’t tell you who any of the forty characters were. There was very little description given to help me keep them apart and there were so many of them, I was thoroughly confused. I very rarely put a book down without finishing it, but I couldn’t make it ten pages into this one. I was far too confused to continue reading it.

This book might be completely wonderful, if you’ve read the first one. I have not. And it is definitely not new-reader-friendly. So if you liked the first in the series, give it a go. If not, don’t even think about attempting it without reading the first one first.

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