Lissa's Reviews > The Raie'Chaelia

The Raie'Chaelia by Melissa Douthit
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: 2011
Read from December 03 to 04, 2011

This book is known to me as "The book with the name I can't pronounce."

I read half of the preview of this book available on Smashwords to decide if I wanted to read the rest or not. It is a Young Adult high fantasy, the genre I feel most at home in, so I was interested to see how it was handled by a vanity publisher as opposed to a self-publisher or a traditionally published author.

I hesitated when I read the Preface. There was a distinct line of defensiveness I was forced to read before I'd even read a word of the story. The following quotes are lifted from the Preface:

"It is a novel with both a storyline and a background theme."

All books I know have both a storyline and a background theme. Where would English teachers be if a book had neither? Can one exist without the other? In my opinion, no. It's impossible to write a story without a theme. Every single story ever written tells of a central conflict, and that conflict revolves around the theme, whether it is Tangled's selflessness, Mulan's bravery, or Beauty and the Beast's compassion. Yes, I am using Disney films as examples. Bite me. You literally cannot write a story without some kind of conflict. Let me reiterate: without conflict there would be no story, and every conflict leads to a theme.

"As you read, you may come across language, names, or terminology in the text that appear out of place or anachronistic. They are not. There is a reason for them that will become more clear as the story progresses. In fact, almost every detail in the novel has a purpose, from the intricately-drawn scenery in the beginning to the hair color (sp) of the heroine of the story. Again, those purposes will become clear later on."

It seems this Preface is written for people who do not normally read, and especially people who do not normally read fantasy. This Preface is written to defend the story simply for being. I find this tragic and incredibly sad. It's like writing "This is a work of fiction" at the beginning of Twilight, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, or anything by Terry Pratchett. It's superfluous; especially as this book is a high fantasy. High fantasy readers are used to those really hard to grasp concepts such as different languages, names, and terminologies. We certainly don't need to be told that it will all make sense later on. Only someone extremely uncertain of their ability will write at the beginning of the book, "I swear it all makes sense if you'll only keep reading!"

See, the point of an author is to convince people to keep reading, even if it doesn't make sense (Fallen, anyone?).

As for the actual writing itself, I found it littered with poorly-placed telling-not-showing and passive voice - which admittedly can be a stylistic choice, but along with the excessive use of 'that', it's not my cup of tea. The writing is also not very tight, a skill that often comes from experience, a skilled editor, or a very good mentor; but I can forgive this loose writing seeing as how the author very self-depreciatingly says in the Preface, "I never thought I could be a writer given that my talents lie in other areas, mostly in mathematics and science."

There is an over-abundance of unnecessary commas that seem to be randomly dropped in:
This was a little too suspicious, as anyone who was studied in the botanical nature of the Trui’Quirre, knew that sage did not grow near oaden trees

Half her height, a small, brown, furry creature, wearing a light brown, hooded cloak and carrying a small rucksack, brandished a tree branch at her and growled malignantly.

She told herself, however, that the house was, more likely, just abandoned, like the village had been, so she plucked up her courage and proceeded to enter.

The overuse of commas annoys me. I don't think it's a classy or elegant stylistic choice. It serves to slow the book right down, and if there’s one thing high fantasy doesn’t need, it’s a drop in pace.

I found the dialogue forced and unnatural. The dialogue tags were also poorly chosen and inelegant. Tagging is supposed to happen at the first appropriate pause, so you know who’s speaking: not after several sentences.

And then, amongst all this simple descriptive language, the thesaurus was suddenly flung open and I was assaulted by words such as unctuous and obsequious, which, no I am not ashamed to admit, I have no idea what they mean. I don’t even think they are in The Mellifluous Book of Hard Words: Read It, Know It, Use It. I’d check, but I’ve already packed it away in preparation for moving house. But luckily Google is my friend – lucky that this is an ebook and I can quickly flick to another tab – and tell me ‘unctuous’ means “Excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily” and ‘obsequious’ means “Obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.”

And now, because I’ve had to set the book aside to figure out what the hell those words mean, I’m going to go play on Twitter and Tumblr for a bit because this isn’t interesting enough to hold my attention.

Note to authors: don’t deliberately use obscure words to try to prove your intelligence because if the reader doesn’t know what they mean and have to look it up, then they’re putting your book down and are no longer reading. Kinda defeats the purpose.

an hour later…

Where was I?

There is an over-abundance of double letters in proper nouns. I’m not against this. Holly Lisle uses double vowels really well in Talyn (Korre, #1). ‘Taak’, the word used for house or village or gathering place (I left my copy in another country, cut me some slack!) is pronounced with a long A (hay) and then a short A (cat) so that the double A sounds like TAY-ack. Instead of the Preface warning that there will be unusual words, perhaps a pronunciation guide could have been included instead. While some words, such as Darrenfell are obvious, it certainly would have helped me be able to decipher Vaassa, Vlaad, Lucce, Draaquan, and Trui’Quirre.

The double and triple use of punctuation marks is simply childish and unimaginable. There should never be ‘?!?’ ever. It’s ugly and shows no skill or talent whatsoever. I often do accept ‘?!’ in dialogue only and then very sporadically, and there must also be a reason for daring to use two punctuation marks together like that – i.e. in extreme circumstances only. And what’s worse, the ‘?!?’ didn’t only happen once, but several times in the first thirty odd pages. I also found ‘?!’ in two neighbouring sentences. What’s with all the exclamation points? LESS IS MORE.

Also, it’s pretty important when characters are speaking that you introduce a new paragraph for them with each new entry. That’s an incredibly basic rule of writing that I learned when I was ten years old. The dialogue tags and indications are so painful it hurts to subject my eyes to this torture. I’m pretty sure I’d rather read the incredibly boring descriptions rather than the incredibly painful dialogue.

As for the plot: admittedly I gave up at around page 40 but from what I did read I found an awful lot of description and hardly anything that was actually interesting. Even the dialogue between main character Chalice and her childhood friend is boring, info-dumping, talking about things I have not been convinced to care about yet, and I’m skipping over it waiting for something disguising itself as conflict to enter.

Considering this book is vanity-published, I'm surprised that the quality is so low. If I was going to pay someone to edit I'd at least want them to do a good job and pay them accordingly. Otherwise, at these rates, you may as well self-publish. Thoughts are inconsistently italicized, commas seem randomly added, and on several occasions I found typos that should have been caught: ‘shown’ instead of ‘showed’ and a name that wasn’t capitalised. If this was self-published I probably wouldn’t be so harsh, but that’s what copy editors are for, right? Oh, I see. The vanity publishers, Lucky Bat Books, charge line-editing and plain editing at $55 an hour. Yeah, no wonder all this was missed. It's kind of long.
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Reading Progress

12/03/2011 page 15
5.0% "Of COURSE she's so beautiful the boys have trouble sparring with her. I bet she doesn't even know she's attractive." 1 comment
12/04/2011 page 20
6.0% ""It reminded her of a teddy bear that she had cuddled at night when she was a child"? Teddy bears are named after United States President Theodore Roosevelt (I'm Australian and even I know this). They can only be called 'teddy' bears if Roosevelt existed and hunted black bears in this world, and Morris Michtom was around to create the toy. Seeing as how it's HIGH fantasy in a different world, I HIGHLY doubt that." 5 comments
12/04/2011 page 25
8.0% "Heh. I would rather read Hush, Hush than this. Hear that, Stephanie and Lucy? I WOULD RATHER READ HUSH, HUSH!" 5 comments
12/04/2011 page 30
10.0% ""At this point, she regretted having delivered him such a hard blow for he was young and incredibly handsome." She regrets defending herself from an attack from behind just because he's cute? Oh come on, not even Nora is that stupid and hormonal." 1 comment
12/04/2011 page 40
13.0% "Giving up. At least I made it further than My Blood Approves."

Comments (showing 1-50 of 101) (101 new)


Lissa I'm going to concole myself with Hush, Hush.


message 2: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia Adam 'Archer' wrote: "Correct me if I'm wrong... But didn't authors used to have standards?"

Yes. Now they have money.


message 3: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia Adam 'Archer' wrote: "I don't want to live in this world anymore"

There, there. It's easier once you accept it and let it go.


message 4: by Steph (new) - added it

Steph Sinclair Worse than Hush, Hush? What about Evermore?


message 5: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia I never said you have to respect anyone. But until you can change it, dwelling on it will just upset you.


Lissa Stephanie wrote: "Worse than Hush, Hush? What about Evermore?"

I don't think I can do Evermore after reading Beth's awesome review.


message 7: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia Adam 'Archer' wrote: "Change shall be made! I don't quite know how yet but it will...

(And that rant was more for the benefit of Douthit as we all know she likes to stalk neg revs)"


Yes, change will be made. I guess my point is, put your energy into making that change, rather than being upset about idiots like Douthit and Fitzpatrick. Which is not to say don't complain about them at all, just don't let it make you lose the will to live.

Remember: If you do that, they'll win. D:


Amanda Hmm this is weird, I tried to open the link to the book to see what it was about, etc.. but it comes up as "page unavailable". Funny thing is if I log out, the page loads just fine. Is there something wrong with my account or is anyone else experiencing this?


message 9: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia Did either of you block her? Or get blocked by her? I don't have that problem.


Amanda Hmm suspicious...

Well I didn't block her, so maybe she blocked me, though I don't know what I did to warrant that. I think I'll go cry in a corner now.


message 11: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia Lissa wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "Worse than Hush, Hush? What about Evermore?"

I don't think I can do Evermore after reading Beth's awesome review."


I think you're thinking of Marked. I didn't review Evermore. I would've had to, you know, think about it again to do that.


message 12: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Amanda, I'm not having that problem but I've heard it is occurring to people randomly. Even if an author blocks you, you can still access the book - you simply can't see their public profile. Don't cry, sweetie. Have an acrobatic kitten.

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message 13: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Beth wrote: "Lissa wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "Worse than Hush, Hush? What about Evermore?"

I don't think I can do Evermore after reading Beth's awesome review."

I think you're thinking of Marked. I didn't revi..."


I was sure you wrote hilarious status updates to Evermore. Perhaps I'm confusing you with someone else, but I was sure it was you. I've read Marked.


message 14: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia I did write some status updates for Evermore, that's true. It's pretty much impossible not to complain about books like that.


message 15: by Steph (new) - added it

Steph Sinclair Oh, yeah. I did mean Marked instead of Evermore. They're both terrible, though. Lol.


Amanda Lissa wrote: "Amanda, I'm not having that problem but I've heard it is occurring to people randomly. Even if an author blocks you, you can still access the book - you simply can't see their public profile. Don't..."

Nawwmygoodness... the cuteness.... I just... can't..

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message 17: by Steph (last edited Dec 04, 2011 08:10AM) (new) - added it

Steph Sinclair Amanda wrote: "Lissa wrote: "Amanda, I'm not having that problem but I've heard it is occurring to people randomly. Even if an author blocks you, you can still access the book - you simply can't see their public ..."

AHHHH! *dies*


message 18: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Amanda wrote: "Lissa wrote: "Amanda, I'm not having that problem but I've heard it is occurring to people randomly. Even if an author blocks you, you can still access the book - you simply can't see their public ..."

I am so putting this on Tumblr.

And about Marked - well, I did manage to read up to Book 5 with House of Night. I know it was terrible but it was addictive as well.


message 19: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Egbert Anyone else notice that the ones most afraid of negative reviews can't write to save their lives?


message 20: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy I think a lot of your review is valid and appropriate. I would argue that the terminology critique frustrated me a little. To me, there is nothing weird about those two words. I would have considered them standard english and now I'm worried about when I publish my novel.

!? Was a perfectly legitimate form of punctuation called an interrobang that fell out of use. ?!? is just badshit insane and belongs nowhere in a novel.

Was it that shown was used as a past tense instead of a past perfect tense?


The Holy Terror "It seems this Preface is written for people who do not normally read ..."

I pretty much lost it at that point.

Your review is full of so much win and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.


message 22: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Kat wrote: "I think a lot of your review is valid and appropriate. I would argue that the terminology critique frustrated me a little. To me, there is nothing weird about those two words. I would have consi..."

Kat, it's not so much that those two words are particularly strange and jarring, it's more that in a novel which for the majority of what I read used very simple language in the descriptions suddenly threw out not one but two uncommon words in the same sentence to use as descriptions in the place of the much simpler language already established. If they were fifteen pages apart, for example, it wouldn't be such a big deal. I don't know about anyone else, but in my university years I was taught Orwell's five six basic rules, the second one being:
Never use a long word where a short one will do (at risk of sounding pretentious if inserted by unskilled author).

I tend to stick to Orwell's rules because I see them working so well for the most skilled authors and they work for me as well. I understand other people don't know, believe in or stick to these 'rules' but I believe they have their place in the greatest of advice to authors from one the greatest language experts.

Like I said, interrobangs have their place - but certainly not next door to each other.

The whole 'shown' thing should have been past tense, not past perfect tense. It's not a screw up of tenses - the tenses in the book tended to be fine, from what I can remember. Here's the quote:
"Her lips quivered as she fought a crazy desire to laugh but she knew the expression shown on her face anyway."

It's most likely a typo, or maybe an author brain fart. Most of us suffer from them from time to time.


message 23: by rameau (new)

rameau Finnish lessons would probably help with the double vowels, but then again English pronunciation never makes sense. Why do authors use them when they don't obviously fit in the language?


message 24: by Shan (new)

Shan Shar Lissa wrote: "I was taught Orwell's five six basic rules, the second one being:

Never use a long word where a short one will do (at risk of sounding pretentious if inserted by unskilled author).

I tend to stick to Orwell's rules because I see them working so well for the most skilled authors and they work for me as well. I understand other people don't know, believe in or stick to these 'rules' but I believe they have their place in the greatest of advice to authors from one the greatest language experts."


Orwell's advice isn't bad, but it's simplistic. If writers followed it strictly we would be reading books on the level of "See Dick run. Run Dick run!" Because those short words "will do".

Unctuous is a fantastic word, communicating so much in brief syllables - it is the right word - the best word, to describe that horrible, false-flattering, trying-to-butter-you-up type of person. And it and obsequious are most definitely not obscure words which have fallen out of use.

Use the precise, exact word which best fits what you're trying to say. Not a shorter one because a shorter one "will do". Not an unnecessarily long one to show off. But the right word.


message 25: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy See, Shan, I found issue in Lissa's review with that as well, however, in the context, I think Lissa is right.

If it's just thrown in there amongst more simplistic language as the obvious spawn of right-click thesaurus, then it's a stupid use.

When you're using complicated language, you have to use it in a way in which the reader is going to understand the use of the word based on its context.

For example. "Lissa had a tempestuous relationship with the town mayor. Their disagreements had become legendary amongst the townfolk and though the mayor had a reputation for savagery and viciousness, Lissa was hardly obsequious in nature."

On the otherhand: "Lissa liked to look at pretty things. Her dad was nice to her because she liked to cook. Cooking was fun and she did it often because she was obsequious."

In the first example, it fits. In the second example, clearly a better suited word should have been used.


message 26: by Shan (new)

Shan Shar Oh, for sure. If those words are the only excursion into polysyllabism, then they stick out like a sore thumb.

Orwell's advice isn't about matching styles or fitting the narrator's voice, though.

[I must admit, I almost always react negatively to any writing advice which includes the word 'never'.]


message 27: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy I completely agree, Shan. I also don't think we should be going out of our way to use simplistic words so that we can appeal to the lowest common denominator of the reading world. But if she's done the above than it's just jarring and wrong.


message 28: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia I think if we all followed the same exact set of writing rules, we and our readers would be very bored.


message 29: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Kat wrote: "On the otherhand: "Lissa liked to look at pretty things. Her dad was nice to her because she liked to cook. Cooking was fun and she did it often because she was obsequious.""

That's exactly what it was like. You can check yourself in the free preview I read.


message 30: by Kaia (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaia It's not surprising. Her prose is so standard and cliche, I almost wouldn't be surprised if she simply plagiarized it. I've seen those phrasings like a billion times.


Hey there Delilah I had the same problem with the same sentence. All the descriptions are 'see spot run' and then she throws in SAT words. My problem wasn't that I didn't know what the words meant, just that they were jarringly out of step with everything that came pages before and pages after.


Melbourne on my mind Oh God. Those commas hurt my head so much. And that was just three sentences. I have no idea how you survived the entire book! And confession: I love the word 'obsequious'. Probably because I read too much Dickens for my own good... ;)


message 33: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Paige, THT deleted the book entirely from her shelf. She didn't want it tainting her. I don't blame her. Thanks for letting me know about it being the top review! I heard some authors complain to GR and get the negative reviews bumped down.

Melbs, I didn't read the entire book. I made it to about page 40-ish. Douthit likes to write a lot of description and that big drop in pace is just not my thing. I like high paces and plot and character-driven novels, especially in fantasy where the world building often drops the pace so drastically.


message 34: by Choco (new) - added it

Choco There is a reason for them that will become more clear as the story progresses.

That's what I told a five year old when I was reading a book to her. Except more like this: I'm only on the second page! You'll know later, I promise, just wait. Everything will make sense when we get to the end... And I hope you fall asleep before that...


message 35: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy ^^It is so very condescending. "If you start to think I'm a poor story teller or that this book is nonsensical - just remember: you're still too ignorant to realize how brilliant I am."


message 36: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Kat wrote: "^^It is so very condescending. "If you start to think I'm a poor story teller or that this book is nonsensical - just remember: you're still too ignorant to realize how brilliant I am.""

Well, I didn't say it, but it certainly felt that way.


message 37: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy That was my implication.

For more information: See here


message 38: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Um... okay.


message 39: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy Sorry, that last bit wasn't meant to be posted here.


message 40: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy But isn't it hilarious anyway?


message 41: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Kat wrote: "Sorry, that last bit wasn't meant to be posted here."

Well, you thoroughly succeeded in confusing me! LOL.


message 42: by Kat Kennedy (new) - added it

Kat Kennedy Sorry Adam, I was designing a blog post and writing a review that both used horrible histories and I accidentally copied the code when replying.

Also, we sell any monk!


message 43: by Lucy (new) - added it

Lucy Your review was extremely professional, Lissa. You have nothing to worry about. If I thought I could be that professional I might've read it. Unfortunately, or I guess fortunately, I have a realistic idea of how I'd end up reviewing this if I read it.


message 44: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Oh, I meant Archer's review got deleted. 'Someone' complained because it mentioned the author. Whereas my review makes not one mention and there's nothing anyone can do about it. I've used quotes and everything to back up what I'm saying.

Also - thank you.


The Holy Terror Lissa wrote: "Guess whose one star review of this book just got deleted for talking about the author's deplorable behaviour on Goodreads?"

I told him it would be. There are too many shill accounts, you'll never block them all.

"I hope the person responsible has read this review and taken note of everything I've said."

You know that if you've blocked the author or any of her "fans" this review won't be viewable to them?

"Also, it's funny how many new private profiles that have only done the initial Goodreads ratings (around 25-35 books) and don't show their faces have rated this 5 stars with no review since I posted this review."

It's sickening, isn't it?


message 46: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa The author can still see the review, but not my profile. I'm just waiting for any of the sock puppets to come.


The Holy Terror No, she actually can't. Anyone you've blocked will get a message saying that the review is private. (I know people who have blocked me personally, that's the only reason I know.)


message 48: by The Holy Terror (last edited Dec 06, 2011 03:55PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

The Holy Terror She CAN however, log into one of her other accounts and see your review, which no doubt she will have done already.


message 49: by Lissa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lissa Oh - my apologies. I haven't blocked any sock puppets, so I await the coming horde.


The Holy Terror Lissa wrote: "Oh - my apologies. I haven't blocked any sock puppets, so I await the coming horde."

I'm not sure these people actually bother posting on negative reviews, seeing as they don't actively use this site. We'll see though.


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