I am basically a kind person. I believe in the Golden Rule, or put another way, in karma. What goes around comes around. I’m convinced that simple courtesy could solve quite a few of the world’s problems. So, I hate to write a profoundly negative review. An author myself, I can vividly imagine how I’d feel if the tables were turned.
Unfortunately, having committed to reviewing Dragon Candy by Talia Skye, I have little choice.
To put it simply, Dragon Candy is the most poorly written book that I have read in at least five years. Ms. Skye’s frequent errors in sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary make me wonder whatever inspired her to turn her hand to writing. Her prose suffers from overuse of the passive voice, run-on sentences, participles without a subject, overblown description and incorrect word choices. Allow me to provide some examples.
“The two individuals became extremely agitated and the angry tones in their voices gave sudden cause for concern. Addressing them in the fragmented Japanese she had been encouraged to learn for business dealings, the conversation suddenly ended and the transmission was cut off at the source.” (page 10)
“The blank gaze of the beast was almost lost beneath a knotted frown and it snarled as she pawed vainly at the strangling grip. One hand let go and returned as a balled fist that sent knuckles dancing across her temple. The impact jerked her head aside and dazed her so severely that she could offer no resistance to its next vindictive action. With a whirling turn, the monster threw her against into the wall. A brittle crunch sounded and it was followed by a soft crumpling thump as Candice folded into a slack heap, her consciousness expelled by the collision.” (page 15)
“Candice bit her lip and held back a wanton cry. The feeling of him charging into her bound and owned body was surprisingly intense. When he nudged to her deepest recesses she broke into a quivering fit and gasped for breath. Her legs curled up and locked around him. Her thighs tightened in fits as he began to shift his hindquarters and thus commence a dilatory ravishment.” (page 42)
I wish I could say that these are extreme examples, but they represent only a few of the painfully contorted and obscure passages that I marked while reading.
Dragon Candy is billed as a BDSM novel, so I was hoping that the novel’s content would distract me from the terrible writing style. Alas, the book offers a not-very-original rehash of John Norman’s Gorean themes, mostly without the philosophy. Candice, a powerful and successful businesswoman, is swept by a mysterious vortex into a savage parallel world where she has value only as a slave and rather suddenly discovers that she is a submissive and masochist.
Ms. Skye spends considerable attention describing the restraints and bondage devices inflicted on her heroine. Unfortunately, her descriptions are so confusing and difficult to follow that in most cases I could not visualize the physical situations at all. My personal taste in BDSM runs more toward the psychological than the physical, but I realize that some people become highly aroused by descriptions of extreme physical abuse. Perhaps those readers would enjoy Dragon Candy – if they can follow what is going on.
There is one scene in this novel that, despite all odds, I found intriguing, even arousing. Candice (now known as Candy) has become a favored slave of the Kami, a society of sadistic half-gods. In an intense session with the Lady Uzume and her henchman, Candy finds herself so overwhelmed by masochistic desire that she begs her tormenters for more punishment. She experiences the ultimate satisfaction in pleasing her masters, by enduring ever more intense pain. The dynamic was sufficiently genuine to pull me into the scene, despite the writing.
Alas, this was an isolated experience. For the most part, I struggled to get through Dragon Candy. More than once I was tempted to simply toss the book in my wastebasket. However, I have decided to keep it, in order to remind me how much grammar and vocabulary and editing matter.
I think that Ms. Skye may have some original ideas and I suspect that she personally finds BDSM arousing, which is critical to getting readers aroused. As the book neared its conclusion, and I learned more about the Kami and their politics, I began to find the story more interesting. However, if Ms. Skye wants to write additional novels, I strongly suggest that she find a writing class, a critique group, a competent editor, or all three. Writing is a craft that can be learned. In acquiring this craft, Ms. Skye has a long way to travel, but if moved by passion, perhaps she should attempt this journey.