Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Nosferatu Scroll - Obviously a Doorstop

I don't believe in reviewing things that were so bad I did not finish them. But I read enough of James Becker's The Nosferatu Scroll that it's merited here. I was about two hundred pages in, and I got angrier and angrier with every page I turned. I stopped for the sake of my blood pressure.

It's hard for me to find literature that is thrilling, mysterious, or suspenseful that preys upon my other interests as well: the dark, the weird, the supernatural. I care nothing for arms dealers, drug trafficking, corporate or international espionage...these things are 9 times out of 10 lost on me. I need something better. Think Twin Peaks. So of course I tried something like The Nosferatu Scroll, which supposedly blends vampiric folklore and missing girls.

One idea kept popping into my head as I read line after line of atrocious, meaningless description, completely unbelievable dialogue, and whole chapters that did squat to move the plot forward: that it was published by Signet, a Penguin imprint. One of the Big 5 that hails itself as one of the "gatekeepers" of fiction. I'd laugh, if it wasn't so sad. It's as bad as an English teacher who can't spell to save their lives. Becker's exposition was so clunky and inelegant that it reminded me of someone watering down an already lousy Wikipedia article. And when you do that in dialogue, what you get is a commercial for life insurance: overly wordy, completely unnatural, and usually pointless.

I lost count of how many times the word "obviously" appeared. Becker would describe something that didn't need describing, (like making sure the computer had a charge before the character turned it on), insert "obviously," and then completely skip over describing things that might actually have given the story a hair's breadth of complexity. This is the way not to write. OBVIOUSLY.

Another major problem I had: the scenes of the girls disappearing, and subsequently being tortured and raped read like someone writing a rape fantasy. It wasn't half as dark as the writer OBVIOUSLY thought it was, and instead seemed like he wrote to titillate, or was titillated, which is my guess. There was something too glorified in the voyeurism, that read like the script for a porn adaptation. Do what you like in your own home, but it made no sense to the writing itself, and it placed me in the awkward position of being very OBVIOUSLY in the author's wet dream, rather than projecting me into the terror of his characters.

An epic fail in all regards. If the back copy of this sounds interesting to you, do yourself a favor and read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova instead.

Rating: 0/10.
**New author goal: 5**

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