Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series
FW Pinkerton’s ability to create magical imagery is outstanding. The plot and characters of Moon Angel, though not perfect, are generally well crafted. I liked the protagonist Katie, and the way her extraordinary gifts transform her life. The concept for the book is appealing. I think many adolescents in the target audience would identify with Katie and be swept up by the magic, but—I don’t think they should buy this book. Young adult readers deserve work as polished and professional as that written for more mature readers. The author’s technical skill is not on a par with his ideas.
A few indie authors are blessed with above average writing skills and with beta readers who are as good as professional editors. These rare writers succeed without what most writers need—an expert eye looking over their work and polishing it. A few writers can spot most of their own typos. They are also few and far between. Beta readers and critique partners are not editors and proofreaders. They are volunteers who give formative feedback on the book as a work in progress, which helps the author to revise it. Some writers publish after this stage of their work, without skilled editing and proofreading. Some get ripped off by incompetent editors and proofreaders who charge money but don’t provide adequate service. The result is unfortunate. A book that could have been delightful to read is frustrating and annoying instead. I don’t know why Moon Angel was published in such an unpolished state, but in my opinion it should be taken down, rewritten, and properly edited and proofread. My reasons for saying this follow:
Beginning without Action
The story starts with background rather than the first event in the plot. It’s not a strong hook for making a reader turn the page. I kept going because the cover and the blurb were so promising. It’s still one of my favorite book covers.
Not successfully American
This English author chose to set his YA paranormal story in California, but nothing in the plot requires it to take place there. If he had set the book in England, his British colloquialisms in the close third person narrative would work better. The use of slang tells me he wanted the book to have a teenaged tone, but it’s not an American teenager’s tone. I was taken out of the story for a moment when I read phrases or words like these:
She wore her hair in bunches.
Katie was gutted she had missed the lesson.
A character (I neglected to note which one) spat the dummy.
They glowed brighter and brighter, until she almost had a job to see.
His dialog also is not always successfully American. Most of the time, the characters speak using contractions, but sometimes they don’t. On page 59 Katie talks to her cat.“Oh Mooncat, there is this boy. I really really like him a lot. He's called Gabe, I feel so excited and happy when he is around. He is such a gorgeous hunk.” On p. 69 Katie and Gabe both say “I am” instead of “I’m.” Sometimes the characters use “cannot” instead of can’t. Southerners occasionally don’t use contractions when being emphatic, but otherwise I think Americans can be expected to use them. I’m not sure if the occasional lack of them in this book is the better diction of the English creeping in, or some other sort of error.
Pinkerton doesn’t need an American setting to reach an American audience. His magical world is very English and his modern world is not especially American. Since he struggles with American idioms, he could rewrite this and set it in England while he’s fixing the other problems, and then he could use British slang and it would work.
Typos, Formatting and Punctuation
The following are the recurring problems:
Inconsistent use of British and American quotation marks. “Americans use these.” ‘British writers use these.’
Frequent use of mega-ellipses to indicate the length of a pause. One of these practically crosses a whole page, others are four to eight dots. “Oh ……..” said Meadow. “So……You seen your mystery man?”
Apostrophes are occasionally missing from possessive forms. There are several instances of a space between paragraphs when there is no scene break. I found an average of about one typo for every ten pages, over and above the missing apostrophes, in the first seventy pages. I stopped collecting them after that.
If the typos, punctuation problems, and inconsistent British and American colloquial language were the only problems, Moon Angel would still have been readable, but it’s full of clumsy sentences that break the flow. After a few too many speed bumps, I stopped enjoying the ride.
Sample awkward sentence: p. 42. Her amethyst ring shined ever so brightly as she looked down at it, but the girl in the mirror, who was her, was wearing a plain dull silver ring in its place.
Suggested revision: When she looked directly down at her ring, it glittered with amethysts and diamonds, but in the mirror she saw a plain silver band.
The book ends in the middle of an event, with the obvious intent to get the reader to follow the series.
The only reason I reached that ending was that I’d taken so many notes while reading the first seventy pages, I thought I might as well make use of that work and finish the book so I could review it. I stopped taking notes, though. I had to remind myself that reviewing isn’t beta reading, and it’s not proofreading, either. It’s a service to readers. If I’d kept taking notes after page seventy I would have worked too hard, and taken weeks to finish the book—and I wanted to be done with it. I don’t like saying that. I had such hopes for Moon Angel. It could have been so good.
End of review.
A few more awkward sentences follow for those who want further support for my opinion. If you don’t think these are clumsy, then you may enjoy this book. This is not a complete list. It was longer but I cut it down for the sake of space and reader attention spans. I don’t claim that my suggested revisions are brilliant, only clearer or more technically correct.
Examples from pp. 1-70(I didn’t note the pages for all of them.)
Italicized versions are taken from the book.
“Wow…….it’s……beautiful,” smiled Katie, who could feel the first tear roll over her cheek.
Suggested revision: “Wow.” Katie smiled. A tear rolled down her cheek. “It’s beautiful.”
“Be quiet, it won’t happen if she tells,” Laughed her mom, cutting everyone a slice of cake. The thing is Katie’s wish was already coming true. What she had wished for was this new her, and all that was happening to continue. It was too exciting for it not to.
Possible revision: “Be quiet.” Katie’s mom laughed as she sliced the cake. “It won’t happen if she tells.”
Katie’s heart swelled with excitement. Amazing things were already happening. The only wish she’d made on her sixteen candles was for these wonders to continue.
p. 61. Her handwriting was beautiful, it was written with a fountain pen, and each word was wonderful the way it flowed together. No one seemed to write like that nowadays.
Suggested revision: Her script was beautiful, old-fashioned and flowing, written with a fountain pen.
p.67. “You heard….Brad, dumped, Jessica,” blurted out Mandy on the spot.
The four-dot ellipse is not my typo, but what’s in the book. The commas between words are also as published. If her speech is meant to be portentous and grandiose, the narration should say so. The fact that she relishes gossip can be moved into this sentence from a previous one.
Possible revision: “You heard?” Mandy asked. She delivered the next three words with dramatic pauses, as if serving three separate courses of delicious gossip. “Brad … dumped … Jessica.”
p. 70 This phrase is used in narration. The worse that could happen is
Typo plus shift to present tense. Suggested revision: The worst that could happen would be
The following are the only notes I took after page seventy. (I’d meant to stop taking them altogether and lapsed.)
“Hiya,” waved Meadow.
“Bravo,” clapped the King.
Do I need to say this? Waved and clapped are not verbs that can indicate speech, nor are smiled and laughed in the examples above. They are actions done during or immediately before or after the given speech.
Meadow waved. “Hiya.” Or: Meadow waved and called out to Katie. “Hiya.”
The King clapped. “Bravo.” Or: The King clapped and shouted, “Bravo.”