Review MethodologyWe rate each book across seven categories; story, character development, book plot, series plot, grammar, prose, and philosophy. For each category, with the exception of grammar, we start with the assumption that the book is average (2.5 stars). Then we start adding or subtracting points when we experience something that impresses or disappoints us. A category can have points subtracted for one reason, but added for another. For example; the book plot category can lose some points for a few inconsistencies, then gain even more points for a unique take on an old trope, which results in 3.5 stars.
If the book doesn't have something special in the prose or philosophy categories, the category will receive a 2.5 star rating (we don't subtract points if a book doesn't contain those items). The grammar category works a little different from the rest. We start at 5 stars for grammar and subtract points if there are a lot of grammar or spelling errors.
As a result of our methodology, you can consider a book that rates 2.5 stars as average/good. Books rated above 3 stars are very good. Books rated near 4 stars are remarkable. Books above 4 stars are exceptional and also give something extra, be it humor, philosophy, magic system, world, characters, or prose.
Review Criteria DetailsBelow are the things we look for in each category to add or subtract points.
This category gets extra points if the story is compelling enough to keep us reading longer that we should. If our mind starts to wander or we want to go do something else (online gaming, TV, movies, etc.) we'll force ourselves to read on as long as we can, but subtract points the more grueling the reading becomes. Extra points also come in this category for humor, magic systems, darkness or light, and the workings of the world that make us want to know or read more.
A book will receive more points if we care about at least one character. Make us love or hate more characters and this category gets more points. It's more about how we feel than descriptions.
Is the plot unique or are we traveling the same worn road we've been down a hundred times? Add or subtract points. More points for a satisfying ending and less points for a confusing ending. Plot holes, weak or lazy story telling devices, and inconsistencies will result in points shaved.
If by the end of the first book (or subsequent books) in the series, we know where the series is going the book will get extra points. We like to see books in a series tied together with an overarching theme or direction. Books that set up expectations about what we'll get to read in the future will get extra points.
This rating criteria is simple. If your book has extensive editing, grammar, or spelling errors it will lose points. A few mistakes here and there don't matter much (you can't catch everything), but a book with repeated errors that diminish the enjoyment of the story will be docked. We're not sticklers about placement of commas or use of semicolons or even the use of adverbs (gasp!). What matters most is strings of sentences that are readable and understandable. The most common errors we see are the over use of pronouns to the point that we can't tell who's who, missing or extra words, mangled sentences that lose their meaning, and spelling errors. For the grammar category the book starts with 5 stars and loses points as the errors add up.
We believe fantasy readers are intelligent and well read. As a result, we like books that make us think. You'll get extra points if you make us put the book down to think about a concept in the world you've created, especially if it has a relationship to ours. Books that contain philosophy that expands the world we're reading about will get extra points. You'll lose points if the philosophy is trite, not thought out, or reads like a one sided speech.
We love well woven words from writers that take some risk. We like to read words strung together that paint beautiful pictures, make us feel during a scene, or make us smile due to word choice. This is where an author's voice gets rewarded if it is unique and inspiring.