1 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
In The Tale of the Unread Book by Evelyn Allen Harper, protagonist Lydia Wood is a bestselling author. She’s penned nine successful books, all part of an ongoing series. Her fans, along with Hollywood, clamor for more. The problem is, writer's block besets Lydia. Her creativity has dried up, and she can’t write. The series stalls.
After a last minute addition to Lydia’s book tour itinerary, a man named Mike arrives in a poultry truck to pick her up, presumably to drive her to a book signing in a neighboring town. Instead, he takes her into the deserted countryside and delivers her to Buck Sterling. Buck kidnaps Lydia and takes her to a furnished cave where he demands that she write book ten in her series.
It’s an effective plot device. The concept worked for Stephen King in Misery, but Harper does not handle the idea nearly as well. The kidnapping doesn't sufficiently scare Lydia. Instead, she’s nonchalant as she thinks about the possibility of rape and murder as the final result of her situation. Throughout the ordeal, there’s very little appropriate emotion from Lydia. While imprisoned in the cave, she blithely goes about the business of cooking, grooming and eventually writing, without much fear or thought about planning an escape.
Throughout the book, neither Lydia nor Buck behaves in a way that makes any sense. Lydia’s relationship with Buck swings back and forth from light and frothy to truly dark. Lydia and Buck banter like an old married couple. At one point, they chuckle together. He wipes away her tears as she writes sad portions of the book. At other times, it feels as if they are adversaries in an adventure story where they are stranded in the cave together, arguing and trying to “win each round” of their disagreements. The only thing that does ring true is when Buck, in true kidnapper form, binds Lydia to a chair, knocks her over and leaves her on the dirt floor of the cave all night. Even Stockholm syndrome can’t explain the uneven tone and pacing of their time together.
On the plus side, the author makes use of all the senses in the scene descriptions. “The truck not only looked out of place, it smelled out of place. The earthy odor of chicken poop seemed to take on a life of its own when it got mixed with exhaust fumes.” The prose treats us to the smells of bacon and coffee in the morning as well as the sensation of dirt in Lydia’s mouth as she lies on the floor of the cave. In contrast, the description of Buck is vacant. Early on, Harper describes him as the epitome of tall, dark and handsome—emphasis on handsome. But there’s never more to complete the picture; no dramatic sweep of hair, no moody eyes, expressive eyebrows or kissable lips. As I read, I forgot he’s supposed to be a hunk. The name Buck made me think of him as a rumpled old cowboy.
In Lydia's struggles to write in isolation, Harper captures what it’s really like to flesh out a novel. When she starts on the forced book, she thinks, “Oh, the events would happen, but they needed to be padded with interactions, conversations, feelings, thoughts, and fears of the characters.” It’s too bad Harper didn’t do the same for Lydia and Buck.
I have to give this book one out of four stars. There is no suspension of disbelief here. Everything that happens is ludicrous. It’s not professionally edited, with many errors. I can’t recommend that anyone read this book, other than to see an excruciating example of how not to write a romance.
The Tale of the Unread Book
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like lisalynn's review? Post a comment saying so!