Cause of Death: My First Bad Review

It arrived today. Kirkus reviewed my book.

They warned me Kirkus are known for being exceptionally hard on indie writers. They warned me Kirkus feed off the souls of dying authors. Young writers, once gleaming with hope and ambition, once twitching their fingers with the sensual anticipation of grasping a pencil, now lie perishing from mortification as Kirkus Reviewers tower above them, sucking their souls from their broken hearts.

They warned me. But did I listen? No, not I! Instead I grasped my trusty pencil and went forth into battle, drunk on the previous excellent reviews.

“Review my book,” I cried into the beating winds. “I dare you! What kind of author can I be without the courage to face your mighty power? Review me!”

My corpse is twitching on the tile floor as I write this. I’ve already perished from mortification. The Kirkus Reviewer, fed to the brim on my beautiful, broken soul, has left. He will not be calling me in the morning.

The review started with an arbitrary and very superficial summary of the book, and my fingers were tapping with expectant delight as I skimmed the bits I already knew to get to the bits that could change my life. And then, with a voice as hoarse and hollow as a dusty goat, the Kirkus Reviewer delivered its first judgment of my exquisite creation:

“Wilson displays great imagination, particularly in the many philosophical and religious theories about life and death and how even leaving this world doesn’t offer relief from some of life’s evils…”

Bubbles of hope and vision erupted in my gut and filled me with a champagne froth. But my ecstasy was short-lived:

“…but the story is undermined by its awkward, verbose writing style that features quite a few tangled lines.”

OUCH! Blood could not have drained from my face quicker had I stabbed my jugular with my trusty pencil. I reminded myself that I’ve been accused of verbosity before. Apparently people don’t like words as much as I do. I’m ok with that, I don’t like dogs or sports. But awkward? My soul began to plead, my body to wither.

“…bogged down by gratuitous character conversations…”


My condition worsened from serious to terminal. Death was already beckoning me, which is ironic given that the very novel that was now killing me is set in the afterlife.

But I clung to this world as the reviewer congratulated “thought-provoking ideas”. Provoking thought is my life mission!

“I may yet survive your demonic torment,” I whispered to the Kirkus Review as his shadow fell across my face, blocking out the last sparkling glints of a future career. I clung to life. Feeble, but hopeful.

The Kirkus Reviewer pulled back his dark hood, revealing his true intent. His face, partially rotted and riddled with corruption, twisted into a mocking sneer as he reached a bony finger to my chest and pierced my rib cage, exposing my desperate heart. I knew at this moment who JK Rowling was describing with her hideous Dementors: the soulless, greedy, Kirkus Reviewer of course. How could I have been so blind? I felt my soul evaporating into his lipless mouth as he whispered the last words:

“Thought-provoking ideas aren’t enough for this novel to rise above the ordinary…”

Darkness enveloped me. The torture of reading my first bad review eased with every shallow breath, death was relief.

There I am now, lying in an early state of decomposition on the Mexican tile my husband loves so much.

I’ll stay down here, indulging my self-sympathy, for at least another five minutes. Then I’ll have to get back up, crack my knuckles, trim down some of those verbose lines and jazz up those down-bogging character convos. And then, when my incredible book is as incredible as it can possibly get, I’ll grab my trusty pencil again and go kick some Kirkus Reviewer ass, mothafocka.

Featured image:

DEMENTOR (left):


No shit.

6 thoughts on “Cause of Death: My First Bad Review

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