Top critical review
Needs extreme editing!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 12, 2016
I couldn't get past the first chapter. And holding this up to the standard of Stephen King and Clive Barker? Unbelievable. Endless descriptions of people. You don't "feel" for the characters. They are a bunch of adjectives.
"He checked the blackened sky again for lightning and storm clouds gathering but the sky was clear. The stars sparkled along their merry way, seemingly oblivious to his current predicament." Blackened sky, then clear sky. A foreboding start in the chapter then the character senses "stars sparkled". Setting of a place and establishing a mood are crucial to the theme of the story - is this horror or what?
"Martin pulled up alongside the window and a face peered out inquisitively at him. The window pane slid to one side and the pale face leaned out." So the window was not previously opened but the face was able to peer out?
"Martin felt the pleasant blast of warm air from the heater within and tickled his face." I'm sure author meant that the warm air tickled Martin's face. But incorrect structure here means that Martin felt the warm air and he, Martin, tickled his face. Also, would warm air tickle? If you are cold and feel warm air, you would be soothed, you would feel safe or hugged, not a "tickle" which is like fingers digging into you and making you squirm with delight.
The descriptions of characters are so "textbook", so lacking in "character" - "...he was around sixty. His face was creased and lined, and his hair was wispy white and receding. His expression was nervous and haunted. He had pale skin and his uniform was a deep blue, but looked old and worn." I could go on and on. Just in the first chapter alone, in the "dimly lit" (this is used too generously) atmosphere, Martin sees every face so very clearly. When we meet someone, especially for the first time, what we see is not just visual. In fact, we "feel" that person, as in, eg. the person walks slow and we think...hurry up dude, I haven't got all night... see how that gives you a sense of what you think of that person, instead of saying "he walked slowly"?
"Even in the dim illumination of the exterior security lights they looked a deep and lush green." This is about the lawns. "lush"? when you are looking at leaves lit at night and the light is "dim". If you look at leaves and bushes and trees under very scant lighting, you see them as dark, sometimes even black, but lush?
"High windows were blocked with black bars giving a close up indication of the building's current usage." - ???
"He entered the hospital and even though the hallway was dimly lit his imagination retreated, embarrassed and ashamed." How about showing us how the place was dimly lit, instead of telling us again and using words already used in the previous page? Shadows, long shapes, so many ways to show dimly lit. As for imagination retreating, and being embarrassed and ashamed, that is just purple prose. Absolutely, if nothing else, that should set writer on opposite ends of the ranking meter regarding the comparison with Stephen King.
"Her eyes sparked a deep blue but her mouth was tight." - What is this supposed to mean?
Punctuation! After "Blake" - need comma.
"Mr. Parcell, I'm Jemima Blake" she greeted him,
"Pleased to meet you Ms Blake" Martin forced, wishing that he was pretty much anywhere else.
"...wishing that he was pretty much anywhere else." - state of mind of character is a wobble. First, he is apprehensive, then he is wistful that this place offers him time to write, then he appreciates that the hospital is clean without a cobweb (really? he's checked out every corner), then he suddenly wishes to be somewhere else. Please solidify his state of mind.
The old janitor chats with Martin and introduces Blackwater. Oh my goodness. This man talks in the most textbook sentences, not at all like one who is talking. He sounds like he is reading from something. "He was an industrialist who once owned large tracts of land on the bleak North East coast of England. He was a hard and ruddy man; iron of will and deaf to compromise and he ran his business with the same stern hand he ruled his family with. He was a squat man with a belly that was round and bulbous. His face was broken veined through exposure to the harsh weather and his appetite for whiskey." Would anyone "talk" to another person and "describe" like that? This janitor's dialogue is robotic and it continues like this for ever!
Another of the janitor's rambling - "Horace left many a bloody and battered fisherman or miner along the way, and after he took to using the cane, a swish of his arm came armed with a dangerous weapon that inflicted many a grievous wound."
At last, something character-like - "Well don't you worry, son, he's hell and gone from here by now, if there's any justice in the world," he added a little bitterly. "Well, I guess it's about time we got some work done; follow me." Maybe the character likes the word "well".
Inside the canteen, "dimly lit" again.
"The pleasant aroma of a hot beef casserole wafted enticingly into his face and crispy dumplings poked invitingly from the dark stew." That did not read as delicious at all. Watch the adverbs!
Lack of, or incorrect, punctuation changes a sentence. - "What are their stories, you know, the residents in general?" Martin asked intrigued.- Comma needed after "asked". If not, Martin is asking a person named Intrigued.
Sorry, had to return the book. Deleted it from my Kindle.