Want some irony?
Poking around online, I discover that Barnes & Noble’s website actually lists the Kirkus review for MNC, which I didn’t realize had come out already.
I’m ending my day with one hell of a contrast:
A hardworking, sanitized Elizabethan backdrop frames a tortuously passive yarn populated by lifeless characters: Mediocre stuff at best.
It really just makes me boggle. Two people read a novel; one falls over praising it, while the other finds it a remedy for insomnia. Did they read the same book?
It’s hard to understand how radically subjective our reactions to things can be. You’d like to believe there’s some such thing as objective quality, that everybody can agree on the technical merits or flaws of something whether it’s to their taste or not . . . but the truth of the matter is that our reactions are often more informed by subtle factors of preference and mood and what we had for breakfast that morning than they are by any supposedly objective criteria.
And then you’re just tempted to throw your hands up in the air and say, screw it. There’s no such thing as quality, just taste, and you might as well throw darts at a board blindfolded; reactions will be just that scattershot, no matter what you do.
Then you have to sigh, shrug, and go back to working on your stories, in the belief that there is such a thing as quality, and you’ll achieve it (or at least get closer) if you just work hard enough. All the while knowing that some reviewers will fall over praising the result, and others will find it a remedy for insomnia, no matter what you do.
(Those, btw, are the closing lines of the review; I’m not quoting the full thing because the rest is just a summary of the plot, though without any terrible spoilers.)