Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Wolves of Midwinter

The Wolves of Midwinter
by Anne Rice
(Knopf / 0-385-34996-3 / 978-0-385-34996-3 / October 2013 / 400 pages / $25.95 hardcover / $19.49 Amazon / $7.99 Kindle)

The Wolves of Midwinter is Anne Rice's 34th book and the 27th I have read. She is easily my favorite fiction author. This book currently has 766 reviews at Amazon, so Ms. Rice obviously does not need my help to sell her books in huge quantities. This is far from my favorite of her books, so why am I taking the time to review it? The answer to that question will appear after the following brief summary.

After decades of writing about vampires and witches, Anne Rice finally decided to add their best pals to her repertoire, werewolves. Of course I like werewolves at least as much as vampires and witches, so I read The Wolf Gift, the first in this new series, last year. As a longtime fan of both the author and the genre, I rate The Wolf Gift at approximately #15 and The Wolves of Midwinter about #18 among the Anne Rice books that I have read. The head howler is somewhat of an interesting character, but he is certainly no Lestat! The lavish mansion setting hidden in the woods of Northern California is up to Ms. Rice's standard format and the surrounding characters are well developed. The weakness of The Wolves of Midwinter is a storyline that drags on too long in a low level of plot action in several chapters throughout the book. When Anne unleashes the surprises when you least expect them, the old black magic is there, but overall the plot is not as riveting as her best. The author surprised me by releasing another Vampire Chronicle next when I was expecting more from the werewolves. Maybe the pack will stir up more excitement in a future volume.

You may have noticed that I recently reviewed Linda Gould's Handmaidens of Rock and then wrote a second report on Dr. Al past's Two Worlds Daughter. Just before that you might have read one of my most scathing and poignant rants about the current state of publishing. The point is that I intend to tie these posts together in a way you might not expect.

Only Anne and Knopf really know how many copies of The Wolves of Midwinter have been sold, but you can bet it's A LOT. Dr. Past's most recent volume in the Distant Cousin Series has sold moderately in Kindle, but I would guess that I own one of the few copies in print in existence. Linda Gould's latest of four novels has barely sold at all, even though I think it is her best work yet. For the record, Handmaidens has two reviews at Amazon and Two Worlds Daughter has thirteen. For comparison purposes, note that my first book, Plastic Ozone Daydream from 2000, has zero reviews! I have never tracked its sales religiously, but I estimate them to be in the neighborhood of 100-150 copies. Al Past has three books with iUniverse and three with CreateSpace. As with my own four/three split, you can identify the publisher by the price. The iU paperbacks are somewhat overpriced, but the CS books are not. All four of Linda Gould's books are with iUniverse.

The error counts of my own books and those of Linda Gould and Al Past have all lessened with each successive release. All three of us began at the top of what was something of an embarrassing heap of books reviewed over the years here at PODBRAM. Those at the bottom of this sordid pile will chill you to the bone as experienced readers, just like facing a werewolf for the first time. Speaking of which, Anne Rice's 34th book contains more errors than I have ever seen in a top-selling, traditionally published hardback! There are errors of every kind: repeated common words, misused spellings of words that are real words that actually mean something else, misuse of tense, and various other types of boo-boos. What do these errors all have in common? They are the sort that appear in books because human eyes did not read and reread and proofread the text before publishing it. There was an obvious reliance on computer programs to find the errors. Was this by Ms. Rice, her editor, or Knopf in general? Who knows? The point is that the error count of The Wolves of Midwinter easily surpassed those of Handmaidens of Rock and Two Worlds Daughter. The corporate downsizing has come home to roost!

What I want to know is what are you going to do about it? When are you going to realize that there are fresh, high-quality authors out there who may not have entered the traditional publishing world back in 1976 when it was relatively easy? When are you going to wake up and realize that just because the latest Anne Rice book has 58 times the reviews as that of Al Past's latest or 95 times that of my Tiddler Invasion or 383 times that of Linda Gould's latest that the traditionally published book by the big-name author is the superior product? Yes, we can make a difference. We may lack the big names and the big distribution to every Barnes & Noble in the country, but we do not lack the writing talent or the drive and dedication to our craft. We can publish a quality product without the help of Knopf or one of their smug pals in their slowly dying industry!

See Also: Linda Gould's Amazon Page
Dr. Al Past's Amazon Page
Floyd M. Orr's Amazon Page


Linda said...


This post caught my attention because I recently had a similar experience with the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy. The book was The Death of Santini, an autobiographical work. It was full of the same kinds of errors that you found in Anne Rice's recent book, as well as a fair amount of clunky writing that simply isn't like Conroy. I don't know if he was suffering from one of his periodic nervous breakdowns while writing this book, perhaps induced by the subject matter. The writing might have served as therapy for him. But that doesn't excuse the total abdication of responsibility by his long-time editor, Nan Talese of Doubleday, one of the biggest names in the business. What this says about the current state of traditional publishing ... well, you said it better than I could!

77TA66 said...

Thank you for the kind words, Linda!